What does love for nature, nature conservation, animal welfare actually mean?
(Published in GralsWelt 4/1997)
Anyone who seriously deals with animal welfare, who discovers a love for nature and the flora, will soon be faced with crucial questions: Do plants and animals also suffer? Do you have a consciousness? Or, as Christian ethics teaches, does man really have the right to subjugate the earth because he is supposedly the only being with an immortal soul? On the trail of the terms love of nature, nature conservation and animal welfare, we get to the bottom of our anthropocentric worldview.
Just a few decades ago, animal welfare and nature conservation were fields of activity for small groups of idealists, whose efforts were viewed by most as not particularly important. Only recently have the concerns of nature conservationists been given much more public attention: every daily newspaper reports on the dying of forests, ozone "holes", the contamination of water and air or the increasing extinction of entire animal and plant species. Because more and more new disaster reports from the environment frighten the citizens and present the responsible institutions with problems that they can hardly fight back.
What has not yet changed, however, is our basic attitude towards nature, our erroneous opinion that the whole earth was created at the disposal of man; in short: the wrong attitude that is perceived as natural in the West, which is referred to as “anthropocentric ethics”.
The anthropocentric ethics
When we speak of “ethics” in the West, then it goes without saying that all ethical thinking, wanting and acting can only be related to people. In the course of history it can and could be deduced from this ethics without further ado that human well-being always takes precedence over other values, e.g. over the right to life of plants and animals.
Even where we speak of nature conservation, the “well-being” of people is in the foreground, often not even this, but only their financial interests.
Who could dare to seriously call for a limitation of the world population or a reduction in the gross national product in order to secure the survival of animal or plant species threatened with extinction through these restrictions? The arguments of environmentalists are taken seriously - albeit reluctantly - at most if they can point to the connection between healthy nature and human well-being.
We only exceptionally become aware that we habitually always see people and only people in the center and with a clear conscience accept multiple sufferings of animals for the needs of some or many people - e.g. for their eating habits.
Our principle “Life is the greatest good” naturally applies to human life alone. For example, when discussing animal experiments, it is regularly said: "The point is, whether with the help of these attempts a large number of people can be spared suffering."
To question this principle would probably even seem inhuman to many people. According to the prevailing belief, the suffering of animals is hardly significant compared to the suffering of humans. In extreme terms, life is for us one People more than that of all plants and animals combined.
This highly selfish show is supported by two completely different directions that otherwise do not go well with each other: religion and materialism.
In Christian ethics, the doctrine persists to this day that only man has an immortal and “reasonable” soul and is accordingly destined to be Lord of the earth. Who does not know the much-quoted word from the Old Testament: "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and rule over the fish in the sea and over the birds under the sky and over all animals that crawl on the earth." (Gen. 1.28)
This “Christian” standpoint, which underlines the anthropocentric ethics, was of course not suited to offer an adversary to extremely materialistic standpoints, such as the hypotheses of the Philosopher Descartes (1596 - 1650), who viewed animals as callous reflex automatons that did not even feel the suffering inflicted by humans.
Anyone who observes an animal attentively for even a few hours sees that such a point of view cannot be correct; but when it comes to the so-called "human benefit", for example - as a concrete example - the profit of the agricultural lobby, both Christian theology and occidental philosophy seem ready to deny the animal emotions, the ability to suffer, and the possibility of spiritual development without further ado; of exceptions like Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) or Albert Schweitzer (1875 - 1965) apart.
Even the last 150 years of scientific research have not been able to change much on this point of view - although it has been proven that humans are also a product of evolution and that some "human" elements turn out to be inherited from the animal kingdom.
Today naturalists recognize that the two hundred million years of mammalian development that preceded the ten million years of the development of "homo sapiens" have left clear traces in the human psyche. But it is obviously difficult to draw the reverse conclusion about the psychological nature of highly developed animals.
"The animals suffer and fill the air with their sighs,
The forests fall to ruin,
The mountains are opened and stripped of the metals that grow in their veins.
But human behavior is quick to praise and honor those
Which, through their actions, cause the greatest damage to nature and mankind. "
Leonardo DA VINCI (1452 to 1519)
How humans deal with creatures
The debacle with the BSE (Spongiform Encephalopathy) bovine epidemic was the reason for many to once again familiarize themselves with the conditions in factory farming.
Keeping chickens in boxes the size of a dinner plate; Pigs or calves huddled together on grids; Cattle feed to which dead sheep processed into flour or the excrement of chickens, which is even more rich in protein, is added: All of this is called "animal welfare", and only a few are depressed when these poor creatures as pure production factors neither have a farm in their short life, a meadow, still see sun and sky. It's all about increasing the production of animal products. The farm animals should gain weight as quickly as possible. Your life cycle from birth to slaughterhouse needs to be short and profitable.
Really, the agribusiness is doing its best to ruin our appetites. But she complains, screams for subsidies and compensation when meat consumption goes down.
Can such a human interaction with the helplessly delivered creature really be justified by denying the animal's soulfulness? Or that one even goes so far as to assert that this order is one wanted by the Creator? That otherwise he would not have created a world in which the prey falls to the predator? Consequently, according to this unspoken logic, the worst and most ruthless of all robbers - who calls himself "homo sapiens" - should take whatever he can get.
But how should we really behave towards the animal?
So far it has been shown that the widespread ethics of occidental humans were not exactly conducive to a responsible handling of the creature. Accordingly, the most diverse interest groups feel confirmed in their often reckless treatment of living nature to this day. Nature and animal lovers still have a hard time opposing animal experiments and mass animal husbandry, and politics are usually on the side of industry, for which animals are only "things" that can be worn as laboratory animals and with them as “production factors” one can switch around according to the “practical constraints”.
Anyone who brutally beats their dog can go to court as cruelty to animals; those who torture thousands of animals make a contribution to research or to the economy.
However, polemics do not lead any further. In order to come to a common position on the issue of nature and animal protection, we first need a sound basis. We will only find this common basis when we finally realize that our attitude towards the “environment” is less an animal welfare, economic or political problem than a question of our worldview; because a superordinate approach is always inevitable if you want to grasp a serious topic, as is the question of what love for nature, nature conservation and animal welfare actually mean.
Without the examination of the personal inner worldview that each and every one of us - consciously or subconsciously - creates, we will not find a safe relationship with nature, animals and plants.
Manfred Kybers The story "Nachruhm" (see box) is a challenging, even downright frightening description that touches on our personal relationship to the creature, our responsibility towards it. Whoever reads them is confronted with crucial questions:
Does this story have a real background? Can it have anything to do with reality (although it is not a question of whether the representation Manfred Kybers is correct in all details)? Does this story - like many fairy tales and legends reminiscent of its style - perhaps even contain truth?
So can it actually be that we have to take account of our actions in this world in the hereafter? That we are responsible for every one of our thoughts, every word and every action? Should this responsibility extend beyond our earthly life? Can it be that the consequences of our deeds have to hit us - be it still on earth, be it in the so-called “afterlife”, or be it in a new life, back here on earth?
If so, it should be our first and most important concern to observe this all-encompassing higher justice, so that we do not become entangled in the consequences of our actions and have to be hard hit by this justice. But before we do not know what we are living for and what we are supposed to do on this earth, we will not be able to answer any life question correctly.
The answer to the question of what love for nature, nature conservation and animal welfare actually means depends crucially on our view of the world: If we only see an object of exploitation in nature; If we believe we can live and act as if we still had many more earths available to relocate to after we have destroyed our present home planet, then all of this is deeply rooted in a certain worldview, most of them Involved still unconsciously, in ever sharper contrast to reality.
How do we relate to nature?
The majority of people today rely on scientific teachings when it comes to ideological questions and believe that all problems can only be tackled with appropriate scientific methods. If something in our society or in the natural environment does not develop as desired, scientists should find ways to remedy this. Research contracts need to be awarded, laws passed, bureaucracy needs to be expanded and, above all, the necessary funds need to be made available.
If it is not possible to get a dangerous development under control in such a way; For example, if the ozone hole continues to grow in spite of all international conferences and political declarations of intent, then one faces the consequences of progress without understanding, which no one wanted consciously, but which no one can control anymore.
Modern humans believe that everything “from the outside”, i.e. with the intellect, has to be approached with scientific methods.
The justification for such an approach is provided by modern, materialistic structures of thought, which teach that our world came into being only by chance, that the evolution of life, including the development of man, would consequently be a senseless and pointless game of chance.
And if one seriously believes that the whole harmony of the cosmos is the result of blind chance, the idea is of course also obvious that with targeted reflection and intensive research, better things must be achieved than the awkward, blind chance during natural history was able to do .
This widespread attitude of thinking, which - even if mostly only unspoken - is taught in almost all of our schools, then opens the gates for every intervention in nature and for every encroachment on its forms of life.
The followers of this modern heresy are inclined to risk much, perhaps everything, in order to further advance technical and economic progress. Whether nuclear technology or genetic engineering - people who believe in materialistic worldviews will not shy away from any risk if they only promise profit or further economic growth.
From year to year, however, it becomes more difficult to save the non-natural artifacts of our scientific and technical civilization from falling. The interventions required to maintain this purely materialistic system are becoming more and more drastic and risky; the danger increases that this Babylonian tower, built against nature, will get out of control and topple over.
This has long been clear in the field of environmental and nature conservation; but not only here, but strictly speaking in all human activities. The crucial thing is missing almost everywhere: the guideline of indispensable knowledge of creation.
But where do you start? If, for example, one were to point out such creation facts - independent of human opinion - in a parliamentary debate on nature conservation laws, as they are in Manfred Kybers If animal history is mentioned in the appendix, the only way to achieve this is to be ridiculed by public opinion.
It should actually be obvious to anyone who thinks logically that there could also be natural laws in questions of nature conservation, i.e. unchangeable conditions that are just as little based on the laws of states as the sun in its work responds to our wishes.
Man has forgotten God
How will our future be shaped under such conditions? In any case, one thing is certain: the problems of nature conservation cannot be mastered with the old recipes, and all approaches that only want to remediate the consequences of human failures without recognizing the deeper causes will remain fruitless efforts.
The future will demand more from states as from each individual human being than clinging to the materialistic, human-related worldview that has led to the exploitation and oppression of other creatures.
A.lexander Solchenitsyn said the following more than a decade ago: "More than half a century ago, as a child, I heard older people explain the tremendous tremors that hit Russia at the time: 'People have forgotten God, that's where all of this comes about ...'
If you were to ask me to briefly name the most essential characteristic of the entire 20th century, then again I would not find anything more precise and more important than that people have forgotten God ... '
We are witnesses, be it a forced destruction or a voluntary self-destruction of the world. The entire twentieth century will be drawn into the maelstrom of atheism and self-annihilation. And this fall of the world into the abyss undoubtedly has global features, is independent of the state, political system, economic and cultural level, of national peculiarities. "(Alexander Solchenitsyn:" People forgot God, that's where everything comes from. " (Die Welt No. 128, July 4th 1983).
Not only among nature conservationists there are more and more people who feel that our civilization has developed incorrectly. They are looking for ways to remedy the situation, want to slow down the destruction of nature, abolish animal experiments or stop other unhealthy developments. But in their endeavors they come across others who want progress to continue as before and who do not want to see that we are not allowed to continue as before.
The disputes about necessary measures to secure the future of our planet and the life developing on it therefore usually end very unpleasant and any welcome clarification can only bring partial success as long as there is a lack of indispensable knowledge of the entire system and its laws. I call this system "the creation".
We have already stated that the majority of people are clinging to a materialistic worldview. In this context, a “materialist” would be a person who, out of conviction, only considers earthly matter to be valuable and essential. The horizon of such a person will then not extend beyond his current earthly life, and the reference to superordinate creation contexts, which also extend into the hereafter, he will refer to the realm of superstition. People who think this way, however, currently determine the political and global economic stage.
New knowledge of creation
if Alexander Solchenitsyn sees the causes of the catastrophes of the 20th century in the loss of faith in God, it should be added that we can only do justice to all questions of life, including what is in truth nature and human love, if we deal with further questions , i.e. also familiarize them with non-material contexts.
First and foremost, this includes the knowledge that the world is created. We have to realize that our earth also belongs to a sublime creation. She, the earth, is a tiny part of a divine work, of whose true size the most powerful telescopes that search the cosmos only give a glimpse of it.
This universe develops within the framework of perfect laws, which are carried by the eternal will of the perfect Creator God. Every human being's noblest and most important goal is to recognize these laws of God or of nature in order to be guided by them. Love of nature, nature conservation, animal welfare will then necessarily result from this basic attitude.
There is much more to the laws of nature than the laws of physics and chemistry. The laws of creation also include, for example, the laws of life that absolutely govern our personal being in this world as in the hereafter. A human race who wants to live happily on their planet must search for these higher laws, recognize them and obey them.
We must also observe these comprehensive laws of life when dealing with nature: It is not enough to classify plant and animal life and pretend that the earth is our property, even our slave, with which we can do as we wish.
Our attitude to the earth we are familiar with with its living beings is shaped by our understanding of these laws of life that are imprinted in nature. These also show us the position of humans and animals in nature.
The initially only disturbing person has become a destructive one in everything he thinks and does, wherever he is.
He has placed himself under all creatures.
If you first get to know nature thoroughly, from which you have long since turned away, then it is possible that you will again become people who live in God's will to create and thus harvest health through nature for joyful, constructive work on earth, that alone can help the spirit to its necessary maturity!
Plant, animal and human
We humans are creatures full of contradictions. On the one hand, we teach that humans, too, emerged from the animal kingdom as a product of evolution and are accordingly close to the animal world. On the other hand, we treat the animal as a pure "thing" and deny it a soul.
In order to gain a better insight into the relationships, the first thing to do is to clarify the position of humans and animals in nature. Let's start with the plants, the primary living things on which all others depend. Plants are undoubtedly animate, they have the typical functions of all organic life - food intake - metabolism - growth - reproduction and thus differ fundamentally from so-called "dead" matter.
Even in the simplest of plants, an additional influence creates a higher order than the chemical and physical processes of “dead” matter known to us alone can. Obviously, even in the simplest plant there is a higher principle of order, it stands on a higher level of existence than anything inanimate. This invigorating stream of power can be described as “life force” (vis vitalis), “inner being” or also as “plant soul”.
With animals we encounter more than the "vis vitalis", namely already a "consciousness of existence". This is more or less pronounced and indicates that the animal has a "soul". The individual animal soul is recruited from a "group soul".
The term “group soul” means that every animal receives a particle or a “drop” for life on earth from a type of creation from which many similar animal souls emerge, which are like one raindrop to another. After the death of the animal, its soul is absorbed again in the large group soul. Each soul brings what it has experienced and experienced into the group soul and in turn contributes to its development. If you want a picture, you can imagine the group soul as a cloud from which drops are released, which begin a cycle on earth, after which they re-enter the cloud.
I assume that the earthly evolution of animal life is connected with the development of the group soul. This absorbed the multiple experience of the drops of soul returning from the earth again and again, strengthened, developed and gradually developed different stages of maturity. This evolution does not have to be over yet.
So it is absolutely correct when we speak of “higher” animals, which not only have a more differentiated body structure, a more efficient brain, but also a more developed soul. Our domestic animals are recruited from such highly developed animal species (which we have recently preferred to call "farm animals" and treat them accordingly).
The invigorating core of humans, on the other hand, comes from a different level of creation than the animal soul. While this has an "essential" core, the human being has a "spiritual" core. In contrast to the group soul, the spiritual core of a person is already at the beginning of his development an individual, equipped with the ability to make decisions, combined with responsibility for the decisions made.
In the nature of our earth we can therefore distinguish the following stages, which build on one another in development:
Inanimate: so-called "dead matter"
animated with soul: animal
animated with spirit: human
An animated fellow creature can therefore be recognized in the animal who can feel suffering, fear, joy and affection. Highly developed animals “raise” their children and, if necessary, even sacrifice themselves for their offspring; they are not inferior to humans when it comes to "motherly love", for example.
So we have every reason to treat the animal - without whose existence we could not live on earth either - with the respect that is due to a fellow creature who, like us, was assigned rights to life and development opportunities on planet earth.
Whoever comes into contact with animals - regardless of whether it is a lap dog, a breeding pig or an experimental animal - must be aware of the fact that he is looking at a living being, the result of a physical and mental one that has lasted billions of years Evolution.
How we deal with these fellow creatures allows conclusions to be drawn about the spiritual and cultural status of our civilization. Who thinks he has the right "To weigh between the suffering of humans and the suffering of animals", must be aware of his responsibility to the Creator.
Those who allow animals to suffer out of vanity, greed for profit or other less noble endeavors will not be able to hide behind their pretended love for human beings from the inevitable interaction of divine laws.
The following story Manfred Kybers can serve as a warning not to take too lightly what we may encounter in equitable balance after our death. We will then be just as unable to get out of earthly laws and regulations, the views of churches, philosophers and ethics committees as we are to the currently prevailing opinion.
It is to be hoped that the fundamental knowledge of the afterlife after death, of the connection between the way people think and act and their fate, will become generally accepted. Then there would be more responsible actors who do not need any regulations or controls in order to treat plants and animals in a way that they are not ashamed of.
The funeral ceremony at the coffin of the famous anatomist and head of the Physiological Institute of the old university turned out to be a moving tribute from academic circles to the merits of the great deceased ...
The priest had just finished his speech, which had touched everyone's hearts: “He was an exemplary person and an exemplary scholar,” he concluded, “he was one thing because he was the other, because to be a great researcher means be a great person. We stand at the bier of a very great man, with distress in our soul because he has been taken from us. But we should by no means mourn and lament; because this great dead is not dead, he lives on and now stands before God's throne in the full splendor of his whole busy life, as it says in the scriptures: They rest from their work, and their works follow them! "
Everyone was silent, moved, and nobody noticed that the priest had apparently forgotten a little thing, namely that the great dead man who was now to stand before God's throne had stood up his whole life for the conviction that there were none God would give. But such little things are mostly forgotten in funeral speeches.
Thereupon the rector of the university rose with the golden chain of office around his neck and spoke warm words of obituary for his famous colleague in a moving voice: “He was always an adornment of our old alma mater and an adornment of science, to which he dedicated his whole existence had, a role model for us and all who will come after us, because his name will shine forever in golden letters on the marble tablets of human culture. In solemn and solemn moments I can only pick out a little from the overabundance of his mind, only indicate how he tirelessly piled evidence upon evidence in innumerable animal experiments. It is impossible to imagine what unheard-of perspectives these completely new medical facts will open up to suffering humanity and to science as such.
Our great deceased was not lacking in rich recognition, as we can gratefully note, honorable signs of grace have also been bestowed on him from the very highest point, "- all eyes were in amazement on the velvet pillow with the medals, which weighed a few pounds -" yes, even shortly before his death, he was delighted to be appointed Real Secret Medical Councilor with the title of excellence, an honor that our whole university felt as such, along with him. But as rich as his fame was, his fame will be even richer for all time, and we, who mourn him, want to allow him to rest from his work, to stroll on the Asphodelos meadow with the great spirits of all Times when his works raised him up, and so I too may close with the words of the previous spiritual speaker: And their works follow them! "
Everyone was full of devotion, partly to European science and partly to the predicate of excellence. The rector Magnificus had neglected only the small thing that European science calls the Asphodeloswiese a fable and claims of the great minds of the past that they have dissolved into chemical substances. But those are small things, and it is the privilege of today's education to use a Greek word for something about which one no longer thinks about anything.
The dead man had stood by the whole time. It seemed to him that he hadn't really changed much. If he only remembered seeing a very light shine, then everything was back to normal and he hardly knew that he had died. Everything about him was just lighter, no more heaviness and no coarse materiality. He was amazed - there was after all an afterlife after death, the old science was right and the new science was wrong. But it was nicer that way, and it calmed him down a lot, although at first there was something agonizing about the fact that he could no longer speak to anyone, that none of his relatives and colleagues noticed how close he was to them. At least it was comforting to hear how they celebrated him and that they had spoken so confidently of God's throne and the meadow of Asphodelos. Of course - he lacked the titles and medals, they no longer seemed tangible. But wasn't he still the great scholar, the famous researcher? Was it not said: and their works follow them?
He was alone now, the outlines of the room grew dark and blurred into space. It was very quiet, the old song faded away, barely audible: When we move into Salem - the city of golden alleys ...
That would happen now, maybe soon. A great tension filled him; but in this tension there was something of fear, something unspeakable, a great anxious question that completely filled him. It had gotten so dark, too, that you couldn't see anything.
Then it got light and an angel stood before him. So there was that too. Then there would also be a God and the many dead who were alive, and the spiritual Jerusalem. How beautiful it was all! But the angel looked serious and very sad.
"Where are you going?" He asked.
“Come!” Said the angel.
Large, dark gates opened silently, and they stepped into a room that was brightly lit. The walls were blood red and innumerable mutilated animals crouched on the floor and whimpered. They stretched out their cut limbs towards the dead man and looked at him with blinded and extinguished eyes. Your series stretched further and further, into the unpredictable. “Here are the bitches whose young you cut out alive. Didn't you have children that you loved? If your children die and they look for their father in Paradise, they will find you here. It is the paradise that you created for yourself. Here are the cats whose hearing you destroyed in horrible torture. God gave them such a keen hearing that it is a miracle of creation. You won't hear anything more than that. Here are the monkeys and rabbits that you stole their eyesight. Didn't you see the sun all your life too? You will now see nothing more than these blinded and extinguished eyes. Should I lead you further? It's a long, long line. "
"That is terrible," said the dead man.
"That's it," said the angel.
“Do all these animals then live on?” Asked the dead man.
“All these animals live with God,” said the angel, “you cannot go there because they stand in front of it and accuse you, they will not let you through. What you see here are their former reflections, they are your works and they stay with you. You will experience all the torments in yourself until you are born back to earth to atone. It's a long and sad road. But they will not be your only companions, you have another one, see who is standing in front of you in the midst of all your works! "
The dead man looked up and saw a hideous ghost with a human face, in a robe full of dirt and blood and with a knife in his hand. "That is the most hideous thing I have ever seen," said the dead man, and he was seized with a horror that he has never experienced before. “Who is this monster? Do I always have to look at it? "
"That's you," said the angel.
“But science?” Asked the dead man fearfully, “did I not serve it? Do I not belong to the great spirits, even if I committed these deeds? "
“The great spirits were brothers to animals and not executioners,” said the angel, “they would turn their backs on you if you could dare to come up to them. But you can't get near her at all. You were a zero and not a great ghost. You also knew that you were a zero, you knew that you would not think of anything, and that is why you have committed all these atrocities out of vanity, in the hope that chance could unravel some of the secrets of nature for you if you did it torture. Afterwards came the lust for murder, the rage of small souls. Do you see it all You can see it clearly in your reflection in the mirror, it has faithfully recorded all the moves. Stay with him, wash his bloody and dirty dress until it turns white as snow! It could take a thousand years, maybe longer. Stay with him because you cannot escape him. It is your companion, and these mutilated creatures of God are your paradise. "
“That is all true,” said the dead man, “but even if I thought and acted like that, did I not encourage a realization? Doesn't science stand up for me after all? "
"A knowledge through crime?" Asked the angel. “Science once had knowledge when it was a temple. I want to show you what your science looks like today. ”An ugly yellow light flashed, and the dead saw a fool sitting who was building houses of cards with bloody hands. A puff of air knocked them over, but the fool kept building.
“Is that all?” Asked the dead man, clinging to the angel's robe for help.
“That is all,” said the angel, “does not your science also teach that there is no God and no retribution and no afterlife? I have to go now. Stay in your paradise! "
Taken from: "Gesammelte Tiergeschichten", Christian Wegner Verlag, Hamburg, pp. 188 f.