Answering Arguments Against Animal Rights
Part II - Argument One: There are More Important Things to Worry About
Argument one: there are more important things to worry about.

Argument one: there are more important things to worry about.
Argument one: there are more important things to worry about.

"The world is full of problems," goes this argument, "why waste time worrying about animals when children (for instance) are being abused?"

But one can engage in this form of one-upmanship with almost any cause.
A starving child.

Why worry about child abuse when children are starving?
A huge crowd of people.

Or why worry about children starving when we are overpopulating ourselves beyond the capacity of our planet?
A nuclear explosion.

Or why worry about overpopulation when a nuclear disaster hangs over all our heads?

This is fruitless reasoning; the only waste of time is worrying about which cause is the most important.
Argument one: there are more important things to worry about.

This argument also assumes a competition between these causes which does not exist.

When I ask you to treat animals ethically, I'm not asking you to put aside whatever other world problem you may be working on. (And this argument does assume that you are working on some other issue trying to make the world a better place: not just looking for some excuse to sit on your butt and do nothing.)

I'm not asking you to send in your money. I'm not even asking you to spread the word. In short: I'm not asking you to do anything. All I'm asking is that you refrain from actions which cause animal suffering.

This cannot be a waste of time, because it doesn't take any time.
It can't be a waste of effort, because it doesn't take any effort.

So how does this compete with other issues such as child abuse? It doesn't.

It's true that those of us who are actively involved in spreading the message that non-human animals have natural rights, do expend some time, effort, and money at it. Why am I here, for example, counteracting arguments against animals, instead of talking about child abuse?

Well, let me see the hands of all of you out there who think child abuse is morally justified... Nobody. No one out there thinks that child abuse is morally okay.

But how many of you think it's okay to eat meat? Many of you. The point is: it would be rather foolish of me to come on TV and tell you that child abuse is wrong. You already know that. Our society is at least that ethical. But there's a large gap in our morality when it comes to the other animals.

Our society believes that it's okay to use animals for our own ends. And so, someone must speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. And if we spend some time and money doing this, it is as a drop in the ocean compared to the money people make off of animal cruelty.

Finally, the way we treat non-human animals matters because it is an indication of our own morality at a very fundamental level.
A man about to kill a small fur-bearing animal

Do we take advantage of those who cannot fight back?
Does might make right?

Are we so self-centered that we believe that our luxury is more important than their suffering?

All of these questions can be answered by the way we treat animals. If we abuse them -- or support practices which result in their abuse, such as wearing fur...
A cow

...or eating meat, then it reveals a morality that is rotten at its foundation.

No wonder Mahatma Gandhi, the great spiritual leader, said that:

"At some point, spiritual growth requires that we stop using animals for our own ends."

And he said:

"A nation can be judged by the way it treats its animals."
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