Remaining indifferent to the suffering of animals ~ 17th Karmapa

Yet for all the ease with which we connect and feel close to our pets and other animals, we all too often remain indifferent to the suffering of animals in general. As we smile at our pet’s antics or admire the qualities other animals display in the videos we enjoy so much, I think it would be good to reflect on our impact on the lives of animals more broadly. Many animals suffer terribly because they are put to work for our pleasure and comfort, or are raised for slaughter to satisfy our appetite for their flesh. We are able to be tender and loving toward the pet who sits at our side and yet be causing unbearable pain to the animals whose meat sits on our plate. We find this thoughts distasteful, and so we mentally distance ourselves by not tracing out the chains of causality and interdependence that link our bite of meat to the distress and terror of animals crowded together in narrow cages or filthy cattle yards. Our own taste for meat is a condition that makes us complicit in a chain of causal actions that results in suffering that we would never stomach if we had to watch it. That suffering is caused by us human beings and is rooted in our failure to recognize our connectedness to those beyond our immediate field of vision.

17th Karmapa

from the book Interconnected: Embracing Life in Our Global Society

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