From Peace Articles

Defending Freedom For All Beings

From Tams Nicholson, Executive Director,
December 2023


Human rights and animal rights are intrinsically connected. Only by recognizing and advocating for both human and animal rights, can we create a more just and compassionate society that values the lives and dignity of all beings, promoting a more sustainable and harmonious world.

Intersectionality of oppression: both humans and animals are victims of oppression and exploitation. Understanding the interconnectedness of various forms of oppression, such as racism, sexism, and speciesism, allows us to address the root causes that perpetuate violence and injustice. By fighting for both human and animal rights simultaneously, we are able to build bridges of empathy and solidarity between diverse social justice movements.

Compassion and empathy: advocating for animal rights fosters a sense of compassion and empathy, qualities that are essential for promoting human rights as well. When we extend our circle of empathy to animals, we cultivate a deeper understanding of the importance of empathy in all aspects of our lives, including how we treat fellow humans.

Environmental impact: the mistreatment and exploitation of animals often go hand in hand with environmental degradation. Practices like factory farming and deforestation for animal agriculture not only cause immense suffering to animals but also contribute significantly to climate change and ecosystem destruction, affecting the well-being of human communities. By promoting animal rights we will protect both human and animal habitats.

Ethical progression: pursuing human and animal rights together reflects an ethical progression as a society. Historically, as we have expanded our understanding of human rights, we have recognized the need to include marginalized groups who were once denied rights. Similarly, recognizing the rights of animals challenges us to extend our moral consideration to beings who have long been exploited and treated as commodities.

Public health: the way we treat animals has profound implications for public health. Zoonotic diseases, such as covid-19, ebola, and avian influenza, have shown how interconnected human and animal health are. By respecting animals' rights, we eliminate the risk of zoonotic disease outbreaks, thus protecting all populations.

Role in human psychology: the ways humans treat animals often mirror their attitudes towards vulnerable or marginalized human populations. By promoting animal rights, we will foster a culture of respect and care for all living beings, setting a positive example for how we should treat one another.

Advocacy for the voiceless: by advocating for animal rights, we extend our responsibility to protect those who cannot advocate for themselves, mirroring the advocacy needed for marginalized human populations.

Moral consistency: supporting both human and animal rights demonstrates moral consistency. Just as we demand respect and protection for human rights, we must extend those same principles to animals. Consistency in our moral values strengthens the credibility of social justice movements.

Advocating for both human and animal rights is not only a moral imperative but is essential for creating a fairer, more compassionate, and sustainable planet. Acknowledging the interconnectedness of these issues allows us to tackle the root causes of all oppression in order to create an inclusive and peaceful world for all beings.

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