Posted by Simon Parke, 27 November 2017, 5.33am
Last week, a (largely inaccurate) story about animal sentience and Tory MP’s went viral.
It is the most viral news story in UK politics this year, reaching an estimated 7.5 million people.
Animal stories do this.
I once wrote a piece for a national newspaper about the appalling treatment of cats and dogs on the island of Rhodes during the off-season.
I have never had such a response to any piece of writing; nothing close.
I can write about human pain, and hear the tumbleweed in the wind..
But if I mention a cat…
This is not to set humans and animals up in competition for compassion.
There need be no cuts, no austerity measures, when it comes to compassion for creatures in pain, furry or otherwise.
(Tolstoy’s description of a 19th C abattoir still haunts me.)
I merely note that human pain cannot compete in the good cause stakes; we presently seem less open to this, less viral.
It may be that the vulnerability of animals moves us, their powerlessness.
And it may be that we are brutalised towards our own pain and seek vicarious relief in a rage over foxes.
Kindness towards pain in the world is the starting point… towards myself, ‘The Big Issue’ seller and cats.
These are not competing causes.