Answering Arguments Against Animal Rights
Part VI -- Argument Five: Animal suffering does not matter
Part VI -- Argument Five: Animal suffering does not matter.

Argument five: animal suffering does not matter.
Argument Five: Animal suffering does not matter.

Reasonable people are forced to admit that animals have a capacity to feel pain and suffer. In order to justify causing such pain, they take refuge in the idea that non-human animal suffering does not matter -- or it matters less than the enjoyment humans derive from their suffering.
A monkey suffering in a restraint

We know that it matters to the suffering animal. But why should it matter to us?
A human baby

Well, why does the suffering of a human child matter to us? It is not we ourselves who are suffering.

It matters because of empathy.

Empathy goes beyond sympathy -- which acknowledges another's pain and feels sorry. When one is empathetic, one feels the pain of another. It actually hurts -- emotionally -- to know of the suffering of another. Those of us who have reached even the most rudimentary level of ethical maturity will feel empathy with a hurt human child. But what about other animals?
A dog

Most of us will feel empathy for companion animals who are sick or injured, because we know them well and are attached to them. But as we gain more ethical maturity we extend our circle of moral concern...
A rat

...becoming empathetic to all beings capable of suffering.
A woman reaching out to a soaring bird

This is what it truly means to "become one with the universe." And this is what it means to become fully alive: when you are empathetic to all that surrounds you. Sharing the joys and the heartaches, you are experiencing life to the fullest. You are reaching your potential. And as you feel the universe, pulsating around you and in you, as you feel the harmony in nature, you will want to ease the suffering around you, and increase the happiness.

When it hurts you to hurt others (or see others hurt), you stop hurting others, and urge others to do the same. You give up petty luxuries such as leather and meat -- and do so gladly.
Ethics through empathy

This is ethics through empathy. It is very simple and real. It doesn't rely on ancient books of legends, or the contradictory musings of philosophers, or the rationalizations of the selfish. It relies on what is: on what is in us all and around us all.
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