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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

In the Beginning Was the Word

If you could create a new animal, what would it be like? What would be its most important feature?  Why?  What would you call it?  Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, p.52.

Sometimes when I looked at my dog Stanley, it seemed because of his expressiveness that he could almost talk.  I found myself wishing that he could.  If I could create dogs anew, I would give them this added ability—the ability to talk and be the spokesmen not only for themselves but for all “dumb” animals.  Humans often get away with unspeakable cruelly to animals primarily because animals lack a voice.  They cannot say, in no uncertain terms, that they too have rights based upon their sentient existence.  They too have feelings and perceptions, but lack the language to be heard in no uncertain terms. And mankind is so willfully dense and prejudicial that he runs roughshod over animals simply because of their silence.  Unspoken evil becomes hidden evil.  The ultimate power of language is that it can explicitly address the conscience; and when it can’t do so directly, it can help marshal forces (such as organizational ones) to force recognition.  It is primarily language that gives mankind ascendancy.  Constant verbal reprimands by my dog Stanley would have jeopardized my peace of mind and tranquility of conscience.  At the very least, I could not have so easily patronized him and taken his goodwill for granted.  My best friend would have found a voice and with it the power to challenge my assumptions of superiority and rectitude.  The self-righteousness I share with the rest of mankind would be cast in new relief.  The next time you look down at your dog and wish he had the ability to speak, you might well consider the long list of ramifications that would entail.

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