do animals have souls?

only good can happen through respect for others and the world around you. when we start drawing lines, then that is usually to support a non-respect or disrespectful action. there is the larger question of using animals as a food-source. but then it goes down to wondering if carrots have feelings, too. and we are back at square one. in n. korea, a man became so hungry that he dug up the bodies of children and ate them. so the government put him in front of a firing squad and shot him dead. but it is the actions of that government that left him and many others, hungry in the first place. yet it is the actions of OUR nation by imposing sanctions, that also contributed to that nation’s hunger. to that man’s hunger. we are fed and have pets that we also feed. we have animals that are used for food. my grandmother gave the explanation that those animals are raised for that purpose, and that is the difference. we could just as easily raise other humans for food, and say the same thing.

so how do we reconcile NOT having differences? is there a difference between man and animal? is that difference the “soul.” so instead of drawing the lines, we cross the lines….saying yea, dogs and cats — and other pets — have ‘souls.’ does that jeopardize our way of life? yes. but can we have a respect for all other life and ourselves? yes. is saying we don’t eat animals but we can eat plants …is that just drawing another line? yes. and so we have guilt that comes to play within the aspects of survival of the self. man is able to feel guilty, guilt–shame, and regret. we see how one thing effects another, and within that, find responsibility.

when advocates push to ban third world countries from eating dogs, do they have a right to do that? when they themselves experience bounty and so dogs become part of the human-family and seen to have “souls.” do they have a right to categorize eating dogs as wrong simply because they themselves are better-fed?

should we then have guilt for nothing eaten? where does integrity come into play. power and guilt. illusions of freedom and illusions of choice. animals having or not having souls, is the historical brace that promotes human culture itself. that brace has been eroded away in large part by animated film that shows the non-reality of “what if animals could speak?” so that seed planted hundred years or so ago is coming to fruition. can we have our cake and eat it, too?

if animals are not “special”….what is it that makes man special? traditionally all that guilt was lumped under man having a soul. all those differences were drawn within a “them” and “us.” and within that we wove the ability for man to also go to hell. IF we abandon all these historical understandings, how will we ever be able to eat anything ever again? what is the symbolism of SHARED food…is it sharing the guilt? collective guilt and collective harvest. a hatred of hunger itself. a hatred of the body that is a PART of its environment, not just set down inside of it.

we collectively have agreed that pets are part of the family and so then are creatures with soul. but we can’t decide that without in some part, deciding that all creatures have soul. the spark of life. not what makes them different than man, but what makes them similar. so belief in those separations, (that only man has a soul) –it is the belief that has a big role to play here.

what should we do? a free-range chicken is just as dead on your plate as a caged one. hate to break that news to you. if are going to separate things and draw lines in that fashion, then should only be eating animals after they die a natural death. that would be the more logical step. so sorting through all the new lines once a line is crossed, is very difficult. it not only leaves US confused, it leaves the generations to follow in an even worse state of confusion. mommy, is old yeller going to heaven?

well maybe yes and maybe no. but if i don’t see him in hell, his chances are looking pretty good.

what should we believe? in this season where thanksgiving will be here soon, and we celebrate being thankful by eating great amounts in a tradition of joy over having. i would suggest that it’s not about being thankful for what you “have.” after all, none of us are taking it with us. being thankful is a way of life, and if only a soul can be thankful…..then maybe we are going to need to extend the definition of soul to include animals. because they are thankful for comfort just like us.

and in the end it’s not how much you endure. it’s not the decisions we make or the paths gleefully widened. is it about the pursuit of happiness? maybe the pursuit of honor. it’s about finding the soul within yourself, and sharing that as much as possible. it’s about understanding that life is infused with guilt. but we don’t have to take that guilt with us.

no, i don’t believe animals have souls. i believe we give them soul and are mesmerized by our own reflections. but “having” a soul doesn’t make man necessarily better. it just means there is an accountability to power. whether we live or die, or die to live forever….is about watching another person sleep, and in your heart saying “amen.” because good enough, is good enough.

some day i will have a better answer. but for now, maybe would say that a soul might not be the part of us that goes on. it may well be the part that stays behind.



2 Replies to “do animals have souls?”

  1. It’s an interesting question, and one that I think most people shy away from because it involves examining oneself and one’s actions/beliefs intimately and honestly, without flinching. Re: the dog meat trade…I advocate for the stop of it the same way I do for factory farming – the practice is cruel and barbaric and inflicts unnecessary pain and suffering on the animals. For the dog meat trade, they do it (by boiling them or skinning them alive, stacking them into cages and crates without any thought of their comfort or broken bones, etc.) because they believe that fear and pain make the adrenaline permeate the meat, which is supposed to make it taste better. In factory farming, it’s simply a matter of producing the most supply of meat for the demand, and the cruel practices are not because they think it makes the meat tastier, but because they have a quota to meet (i.e. the apathy which causes the cruelty is a byproduct of the industry and desensitization).

    Am I Vegan? No, although I haven’t given up trying. I also tend to think that plants might be able to feel pain (crazy, I know) but I still eat vegetables. My boyfriend and I were talking about this the other day – he mentioned that in nature, animals eat other animals, or they eat plants and no one thinks anything about it, because it’s “nature”. It’s accepted as a “natural way of things” for animals to eat other animals to survive. Mankind is an animal. So, it would stand to reason that we can (and should, biologically) eat at least some other animals (and not just plants, despite what some will say about us humans being designed to only eat plants — I have canine teeth, our bodies NEED certain proteins and amino acids which plants alone cannot provide).

    But, back to the question of animals having souls…as kids, my brother and I asked our pastor about it. He very firmly believed that animals do NOT have souls. My grandmother wasn’t sure, but she tended to agree that they didn’t/don’t. They certainly have *intelligence*, but a soul is more than that, isn’t it? They have instincts, but a soul is more than that, too. They have emotions, but again, a soul is more than that. I guess it really depends on what your definition of “soul” is.

    From a religious standpoint, it’s what goes to Heaven or Hell, or what gets reincarnated (hey there’s a whole other point – what if someone’s human soul is reincarnated into an animal?), what gets passed along to the next life, or what differentiates “us” animals from “them” animals in this life.

    I DO know (there is no doubt) that animals feel emotions, pain and have intelligence. And I would hate to think of any kind of afterlife without them in it. If we’re all connected, if we’re all just energy and matter, then we should care about how we as human beings treat ALL animals, not just some of them. We have been really shitty “stewards” of this planet so far. :-/

    1. I agree, comes down to the definition of “soul” and if by definition the soul is that something that makes man different than the rest of creation, then by definition it is exclusive to man. I think the cruelty to animals is wrong, but do not have answers. It is all done on a scale. So a small pen is bad, because the larger fenced area were good. And the fenced areas are bad because free in the wild is good. I don’t see how to draw any lines. Tagging or branding cattle could be cruel, they shake their heads constantly with those stupid tags in their ears. There is a UK video…. I’ll try to remember or find it in my files. Like the “future of food” but with meat….

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