Brief reflections on “The Dominion of Love”: Part I
As a species, humans are deeply peculiar in a number of significant ways. We certainly have the capacity for great kindness, compassion, mercy, and consideration for those who are weaker than ourselves. Yet, more often than not, we express the dark, twisted, and deeply disturbing side of our nature, opting to cause great harm, suffering, and death towards the sentient beings that share this planet with us. Far from being at peace with this destruction of life, we turn away from its occurrence, often finding ourselves averting our eyes at the pain we’ve caused, yet nevertheless allowing to to continue.
When we consider what the world’s religions have to offer in regards to the treatment of the non-human animals walk this earth with us, we don’t often find the entire picture, but rather bits and pieces we must put together, much like a puzzle of sorts. The guiding principles that create Jainism and Taosim, as a rule, strongly encourage their adherents to live without causing unnecessary harm to the beings around them, human or animal. The Buddhist and Hindu faith traditions likewise call for their followers to engage in principles of non-violence, with a great many members of these faiths opting to incorporate vegetarianism or veganism into their dietary choices, correctly recognizing that using and consuming animals or their by-products causes a tremendous amount of unnecessary agony and suffering to the creatures themselves, and cannot be justified rationally.
Norm Phelps reminds us in his work “The Dominion of Love” that we will never truly find a peace within our lives or within our spirits if we continually contribute to a system that perpetuates violence against animals of a horrific magnitude. There is something within the depths of human nature that seeks to protect us from causing harm to ourselves, whether it’s physical or emotional. Additionally, as previously mentioned, none of us with to believe that we’re on the side of the aggressor in situations where cruelty is being carried out against defenseless creatures. This combination of self-protection and the seeds of compassion are often at odds within us, and it is my personal reasoning as to why so many people consciously avoid seeing films that capture the realities of how we treat animals, as well as avoiding websites, books, and individuals that wish to bring this truth to light: they instinctively suspect that the truth might be difficult to handle, and that their behaviors cannot be justified on a moral, ethical, ecological, or spiritual level.
I’ll be reflecting more on the insights gleaned from this book in the days to follow. It’s certainly providing me with a great deal to consider, particularly in respect to how “all violence is interconnected”, and why veganism must be the moral baseline, in the famous words of Francione.