By Vic Bishop | Waking Times
Few things exemplify the darkness lurking within the hearts of human beings quite like animal cruelty. While human beings bicker, fight and war amongst themselves, animals are increasingly being treated with a severe lack of respect and compassion. This is a growing social problem stewing just below the radar of mainstream awareness.
Recently, police in Georgia encountered the worst case of animal cruelty they’ve ever seen, finding over 100 dogs chained to trees and penned up in the woods with no food, water or shelter. Rescuers in Dortmund, Germany were recently called out to save a turtle that had a hole drilled in its shell with a ring in it, attached to a tree with a 23 foot cable. A video just surfaced on social media showing a Chinese man in Australia stabbing and slashing a kangaroo’s throat over 18 times, apparently for fun. In Boston, a teenage girl microwaved her pet turtle and posted before and after images to social media.
Cases like these are actually minor when you consider the treatment animals have historically seen on planet earth. We see evermore appalling cases of animal abuse each year, regardless of how many nations pass laws to protect animals and more heavily prosecute those found guilty of cruelty. In 2016, the FBI even added animal cruelty to its list of class A felonies.
Industrial scale cruelty is an even more serious issue, and those working at the international level to aid the plight of animals sadly face persecution by governments, who all too often use the law to protect industrial interests. Whaling is a prime example, and Paul Watson, aka the Sea Shepard, recently announced that his organization can no longer afford the legal troubles associated with interfering in Japan’s annual whaling expeditions.
Meanwhile, the world was shocked upon the finding of a fishing boat near Galapagos, Ecuador containing the carcasses of thousands of illegally slaughtered sharks. The images were quite graphic, but certainly reflect only a tiny portion of the magnitude of the shark holocaust taking place today. Even countries like Costa Rica, who maintain the public image of being environmentally conscious, have seen massive scandals involving high-level members of the government who’ve aided and profited from illegal shark-finning off its protected coasts.
Big game poaching continues to exacerbate around the world in spite of a host of efforts and initiatives to stop it. Elephants and rhinos are being murdered at alarming rates, primarily for their tusks and horns which are still quite valuable on the international black market. In the rainforests of Borneo and throughout Indonesia, wild animals are considered acceptable collateral damage in the corporate quest to turn the forests into profitable factories of paper and palm oil. Harrowing images of wild orangutans being decimated frequently surface these days.
We’ve seen case after case in recent years of beachgoers killing baby dolphins, even the nearly extinct Vaquita, in order to mob the struggling animals to take selfies with them. In Costa Rica in 2015, hundreds of clueless tourists mauled the nests of egg-laying sea turtles, again for selfie photos.
All of this is just a small sample as this type of thing goes on and on without end. But what is at play here? Is this a reflection of the dark side of human nature, or something else altogether?
Author and professor of psychology at Western Carolina University, Hal Herzog, Ph.D., refers to this as ‘everyday sadism,’ and attributes it in part to the psychological composition of those in our society who exhibit the traits of the dark triad. This dangerous combination includes narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy.
Eleonora Gullone, associate professor in Psychology at Monash University, Australia, makes the strong link between animal cruelty and antisocial behavior and aggression in her book, Animal Cruelty, Antisocial Behaviour, and Aggression: More Than a Link, which suggests that animal cruelty is also directly linked to our propensity to harm each other.
In a 2010 article from The New York Times, Charles Siebert makes the statistical connection between animal cruelty and domestic violence.
“In an often-cited 1997 survey of 48 of the largest shelters in the United States for victims of domestic violence and child abuse, more than 85 percent of the shelters said that women who came in reported incidents of animal abuse; 63 percent of the shelters said that children who came in reported the same. In a separate study, a quarter of battered women reported that they had delayed leaving abusive relationships for the shelter out of fear for the well-being of the family pet.” [Source]
No doubt, animal cruelty is also a symptom of humankind’s ever-increasing disconnection with nature. Killing baby animals or destroying the nests of the unborn for the sake of photos is a clear sign of a lack of understanding of the cycle of life. And as narcissism grows along with our use of smartphones and social media, it seems so do acts of cruelty.
On the other hand, humans have an enormous capacity for compassion and love, as recently exemplified by a massive effort rescue animals of all kinds trapped in the floods of Hurricane Harvey.
In a culture which seems to be increasingly divided and hostile, animal abuse is on the rise. What do you think the link here is?