Sloth

Seth Victor

 I wrote that gluttony is the biggest of these applied sins, but I may have spoken too soon. Everything I’ve written so far is meaningless if no one critically considers the issues contained in these posts, and while my goal is to get people thinking and talking about these issues, that alone is not enough. It’s a tired saying, but actions do speak loudest. Where our society goes with animal rights is determined solely by what actions we take. It’s that simple. For that reason, sloth is the greatest sin to overcome.   

            Sloth does not only affect the movers and shakers of animal rights, despite there being an animal so inactive that it was named after one of the sins. The inability to motivate oneself is prevalent from large public interest firms to teenage boys sitting on the couch instead of mowing the law (sorry dad). The difference here is that an overgrown lawn can be good for the environment, whereas millions of butchered animals are not. There are other causes that require our attention where lives are at stake. I’m not suggesting that stopping violence in Darfur or, you know, that whole climate change thing are any less worthy of action. By all means, throw yourselves behind a cause, and be better for it. What I am proposing is that animal rights advocacy requires the least amount of work for the average person to promote, and it is hardly demanding to make a serious difference. Let’s review:

Pride

Problem: Animals are being abused to test new chemicals for products.

Solution: Don’t buy those products. Buy ones that aren’t tested on animals.

Wrath

Problem: Animals, especially dogs, are abused for entertainment.

Solution: Don’t hit animals, or encourage that practice.

Lust

Problem: Animals are exploited sexually.

Solution: Stick to your own species.

Greed

Problem: Animals are unnecessarily hunted for sport.

Solution: Virtual hunting. All the excitement, none of the ticks!

 Gluttony

Problem: CAFOs are destroying our world.

Solution: Eat less, and eat local.

Envy

Problem: The fur industry is a barbaric one.

Solution: Don’t wear fur. It makes you look stupid.

Look at that. You’re now a conscious animal rights advocate, and you haven’t even left your desk. Is it that simple? Yeah, it kind of is. To not be slothful (full of sloths?) you needn’t picket animal testing facilities (since Bush made that a criminal act). All you have to do is be more conscious when you shop and eat. I know this requires more vigilance than many people are willing to give, but this is where change happens. It starts with choosing happy rabbits over extra glossy shine for your hair. It starts with eating less meat, or at the very least supporting a local, humane farm. It starts with action, because actions become habits, and habits become lifestyles. Although donations to nonprofits that work to protect animals are always welcome, it is not enough to just give money and still indulge in the sins. To do so is to nullify any good that donation creates. Society itself must change. That is not so incredible a task. Look at how far we’ve come as a society, as a species, in such a short period of time. Individuals are incredibly powerful forces.

Time is never on the side of change, for by the time we realize that change is needed, things are already rather bad. All of the animals who need saving will be dead by the time meaningful laws are in place. We are fighting for the animals yet to come, so that they might be spared the pain of the seven deadly sins. We are fighting for people, too, for at the end of the day our treatment of animals is a reflection of ourselves, and it is not a flattering mirror. Little by little our society has codified the belief the animals should be treated better than they have in the past, and while it is easy to compare the accomplishments of today to worse practices in our history, as Douglas Adams wrote, “Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.” What will later generations think of our efforts? Or will they concluded that, given the opportunity, we didn’t really expend much effort? I hope not. I hope that sloth does not prove to be the sin of our undoing. But hope alone, if the current administration is any indication, is not enough.

Action, daily actions in everyday life, is the way to change. We need only sacrifice so little to gain so much. I urge everyone to find at least one area of animal rights that I touched on over the last few posts and try to improve animal treatment in that field, or talk about this issue with someone who is ignorant of the reality of the situation. It’s not a lot, and yet it makes all the difference in the world.

6 Responses

  1. “You’re now a conscious animal rights advocate, and you haven’t even left your desk. Is it that simple?” So much really is “so simple”. All we have to do is stop complicating the issues with “canine teeth”, ancient (unverifiable) writings, “tradition” and other excuses. It’s really not all *that* hard to do the right thing… Thanks for a great summation!

  2. Yeah, those ancient unverifiable writings do make things more complicated. I think we can get around them though.

  3. With the horror of the Gulf oil spill smothering millions of birds and fish and mammals, it is easy to feel outnumbered by obstacles and overwhelmed by the sheer volume of what needs to be done. It is easier still for some people to simply not think about it, or tune in to the TV to see what others are doing about it. The rest of us–namely, the kind of people who read this blog and call ourselves activists–inhabit the sorrow and anger and despair that threatens to depress us out of commission. But unless we act in some way, we will have no buoying hope, nothing to rescue us from utter misery.
    My friend and I wept as we planted little fruit trees and talked about the oil spill. We had to take comfort and see hope in our tiny efforts to mitigate the enormous affront against Nature. Similarly, I rescued two bulls from the slaughterhouse. Not only had I formed a bond with the animals before the owner (yes, owner) sent them to the slaughterhouse and become attached to them as individuals, but to me they represent all the billions of animals I can’t save. They signify hope and bring me some soul soothing.
    We have to do something or we will become embittered and hopeless, and abandoning all hope is hell.

  4. Laura you’re so right about the gratification and hope that comes from doing some small bit of good… The two bulls would certainly represent that idea; As does a small flock of ex-“egg” hens which share my home. My efforts are but a drop in a vast see of urgency -Nonetheless, they bring me solace that things can/will change.
    To counter sloth I would also say “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something”.
    Thanks once again Seth for uncoiling truths and setting a plan to mend the wrongs.

  5. […] thanks to David N. Cassuto of the Animal Blawg for permission to republish this thought-provoking blog entry, “Sloth,” by Seth Victor. […]

  6. […] Sloth « Animal Blawg […]

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