Dog Meat

Another article in today’s news that might be worth commenting on — the Yulin “dog-meat festival” in China, and the “global outcry” against it.

The cynic might be inclined to protest “What’s the big deal? Eating dog or cat is no different than eating cow or chicken or fish”. It’s all protein, after all. Why the especial concern for dogs or cats or horses?

But whether it’s all just protein or not is not the issue that arouses the sense of outrage, or that is the tragedy of it. Man has very few friends left in the natural world. At one time, humans had more friends among the species. The dog and the cat, and perhaps the horse, represent the last remnant of those friendships — the only remaining real bond between man and Nature. And if contemporary Man feels completely alone and isolated in the universe, and as a “stranger in a strange land”, he has only himself to blame for that.

The betrayal or destruction of that bond of friendship and what it means for mankind’s remaining thread of a connection to Nature is what arouses outrage. The appearance of a mere sentimentalism (instead of a crude and boorish utilitarianism that masquerades as “realistic”) towards the plight of dogs and cats is only appearance. It disguises something much more profound.

And you know this, I think. You know that Man feels less alone, less isolated in the cosmos wherever a man or woman shares a bond of friendship with an animal like the dog or cat. They are used in therapy for that very reason — to draw human beings out of themselves — so that it even makes sense to say (and is perhaps the only proper way to think of it) that the domesticated dog and cat have volunteered to remain by mankind’s side, as mankind’s last remaining link to, and bond with, the natural world.

And if mankind doesn’t respect that bond of friendship that preserves its origins in the natural world, mankind can’t respect any kind of friendship. Even friendship becomes only a mere cynical utilitarianism — a case of “what’s in it for me?” Betrayal becomes a way of life.




2 responses to “Dog Meat”

  1. Scott Preston says :

    After I posted this yesterday morning, I came across this article on the BBC — “Why the UK doesn’t eat dog meat…”

    There’s almost a hint of that same recognition of friendship as what I wrote above, but which becomes distorted by utilitarianism. In fact, I’m tempted to say that the present deficiency of evolutionary theory is due to the application of the utilitarian ethos to evolutionary theory. This deficient utilitarianism has become virtually the contemporary “common sense”.

    The irony of utilitarianism is that it was originally a theological doctrine, not a “secular” one. That everything exists in terms of “use” (but not abuse), especially for human use, comes from the Book of Genesis. But utilitarianism was gradually shorn of its theological and spiritual meaning to become somewhat crass, even narcissistic or anthropocentric.

    “Useful” doesn’t necessarily mean that man has the right to take possession of the earth and its creatures merely for to satisfy his appetites, as a spouse is taken “to have and to hold” in marriage. “Useful” (and even the term “possess”) did not necessarily have the same meanings as we ascribe to these terms today, in terms of “to have and to hold”. The eagle, for example, was “useful” in the sense that it bore humankind’s prayers to heaven, so it was “useful” in that sense. Things and beings are “useful” to the extent that they all were considered to all serve a divine purpose or plan, as agencies, just as much as human beings were “of service” or useful.

    The secularisation of the meaning of “utilitarianism” in that sense parallels the other lapses of value or “fall of the angels”, as we might call it. “Service” — the very meaning of this term — lapsed into slavery and enslavement rather than the idea of service or use in fulfilling a purpose. This was the result, by and large, of the elimination of all teleological explanation in science.

    Again, another instance of how “all higher values devalue themselves”, in Nietzsche’s definition of nihilism. In fact, the utilitarian creed is a good example of that old saying “when you have only a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail”.

    So, like the contemporary secular political ideologies, utilitarianism as a secular ethos is actually decayed and deteriorated theology. Like so much else, it has been massaged and manipulated by human egoism and narcissism to become something completely different than what it originally meant.

    Where egoism becomes the norm, indeed, then “all higher values devalue themselves”. That, also, is the parable of the Prodigal Son, who leaves behind his divine estate and origin to gradually sink into living amongst the swine.

    The parable of the Prodigal Son is, in that sense, a very, very profound statement about humankind’s lapse into egoism and its journey “into a faraway land”.

  2. LittleBigMan says :

    Horrid, indeed. I’m rather speechless.

    In my opinion, a lot of this is habitual and also, as you point out, egotistical and selfish.

    But what I think is most offensive to the spirit of the wild is that we commonly devour these creatures without a ritual of respect to thank them for the life they have given up in order to sustain ours. Saying grace was an extremely important ritual which I don’t think is taken very seriously globally. I’m sure native peoples of North America had/have their own version of saying grace, too, which helped keep a spiritual connection to the animal life that was taken.

    But we have really lost most of that connection. Not to mention industrial food production that has made us even more ungrateful and contributed so much to making many very unshapely.

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