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Leonardo Boff: Animals Endowed With Rights

LEONARDO BOFF: ‘Whether one acknowledges the dignity of animals depends on that person’s paradigm or vision of the world and values. Two paradigms have been handed down to us since the most remote antiquity, and still endure today.

The first understands the human being as part of nature and, with her, another inhabitant participating in the immense community of life that has existed for 3.8 billion years… This does not give us the right to consider ourselves masters of the reality that preceded us and that created the conditions for us to emerge… Human life is a sub-chapter in the main chapter of life.

The second paradigm starts with the idea that the human being is the apex of evolution, and that all things are at his disposal to dominate and use as the human being pleases. He forgets that to emerge, humans needed all the natural factors that preceded us. Humans joined everything already in existence; he was not placed above everything else…

The first paradigm – the human being as part of nature – enjoys a fraternal and amicable relationship with all beings… Not only is the human being an end in itself, but so are all living beings, which therefore must be respected. There is scientific data favoring this position… The second paradigm – the human being as the master of nature – has a utilitarian relationship with other beings and animals…

If we do not convert to the first paradigm, we will continue with the barbarity against our brothers and sisters in the community of life, the animals. As ecological consciousness grows, we become ever more aware that we are related, and as such we should treat each other as Saint Francis treated the brother wolf of Gubbio, and the simpler beings of nature’. SOURCE…

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