Animal nature and human culture
A dialogue between Peter the hawk and Davina the goose. Peter believes that animals are equal to humans and that mutual aid is necessary. Davina is a frequent traveler who knows that knowledge and ethics are acquired with experience.
Peter: dear Davina, I was looking for you.
Peter: I wanted to have your thoughts about doing a radio column about humans, based on our travels and our encounters. I would like to use it to promote the intellectual liberation of the creatures of the domain.
Davina: do you have a radio?
Peter: no, but I have some contacts with the one of the air, and we could have a time slot if you agree .
Davina: and what exactly do you have in mind?
Peter: you know like me, from seeing them from above, that humans who feel superior to us are not that extraordinary. Talking about their ways of life could help our animal and plant friends feel more confident. We could call our show “the noise of humans”.
Davina: why not, Mr. the hawk, if only to share my travel memories with another frequent traveler.
Peter: so, Madam the goose, if you have something we could talk about, we can record right now!
Davina: you are not wasting any time but yes, there is a story that struck me recently and that happened in Germany, so I am ready.
Peter: give me 5 minutes. (he flies away and comes back with a small device that he puts on the grass).
Peter: here we are, ready? I’m starting the recording: dear listeners, Davina the goose and myself, Peter the hawk, are starting today a program called “the noise of humans” where we will talk about what we saw as we were flying upon them. Our goal is to show you that these humans are not as advanced as they think they are, and therefore we hope that you’ll find in our remarks something to smile, something to think about and something to feel comforted about. Madam the goose will now tell us what she has seen lately.
Davina: well, Mr. the hawk, it’s something that happened in Germany and involved two lions in a zoo.
Peter: ah, it’s a surprising coincidence because in addition to this show, I wanted to make an enclosure with humans inside to better see what they look like when they can’t attack us.
Davina: dear Peter, don’t count on me for that idea! We shouldn’t imitate humans’ moral mistakes and imprison living creatures.
Peter: yes , you are surely right, I was only seeing it as a way of making them understand the evil which they do us. In the meantime, your lions?
Davina: well, I don’t like them as a rule but those two, they could not stand being in a cage anymore so they ran away.
Peter: well done, brave lions!
Davina: do not rejoice too quickly, they didn’t go far. In the middle of a town, they weren’t sure what to do. The humans quickly surrounded them and pushed them towards a cage, but there was one that was getting too agitated so they killed her.
Peter: they killed her! Like that!
Davina: yes, they were afraid that she would rebel and attack them.
Peter: it is a common trait of humans, they want both exoticism and security; they think illusion can replace reality.
Davina: they do that because they love the thrill without the danger that comes with it. The problem is, they don’t realize that substituting the experience of reality with the experience of illusion also modifies the bases of their moral compass.
Peter: therefore they think they are superior and can’t stand it when nature takes over.
Davina: they don’t live like the rest of the creation.
Peter: what they call their culture and which changes with times and circumstances prevents them from having sure and universal rules. These escaping lions should remind them how unfair the laws they impose on the rest of the living are, but they don’t understand.
Davina: a rebellious lion doesn’t meet their criteria.
Peter: how can’t they see that these caged animals are unhappy? When I fly over a zoo, that’s what immediately strikes me.
Davina: they probably lack empathy because they are above all concerned about themselves. As if the world stopped at their universe.
Peter: I believe you are right about the human enclosure, your story shows that they have nothing to teach us.
Davina: and that to avoid them in order to live free, that’s better.
Peter: peace to the lion of Leipzig, then.
Davina: she died to enlighten us.
Humans tame nature to feel secure, but thus move away from its laws. Because their culture ignores nature, this only increases their fears.
For Davina, the example of lions imprisoned and then killed when they escape proves that these humans have a view of the world that induces dangerous moral conceptions for the rest of the living.
For Peter, they live in an illusory world that does not correspond to that of nature. Other living creatures who remind them that their laws are not universal take risks.
Locking up animals to protect them, is it moral?
Do we always have to eliminate what frightens us?
Want to think a little more? See, for example, Animal liberation where Peter Singer explains that animals have feeling and must be respected.
Want to contribute to these dialogues? Write your comments and questions below.
Want to know more about the tastes of Davina and Peter? Their favorite books are in the domain library.