South African social rights activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu made headlines recently when his written introduction to a forthcoming publication came out strongly in favor of animal welfare. It is Bishop Tutu’s first major statement on this issue. He said:
I have seen firsthand how injustice gets overlooked when the victims are powerless or vulnerable, when they have no one to speak up for them and no means of representing themselves to a higher authority. Animals are in precisely that position. Unless we are mindful of their interests and speak out loudly on their behalf, abuse and cruelty go unchallenged.
It is a kind of theological folly to suppose that God has made the entire world just for human beings, or to suppose that God is interested in only one of the millions of species that inhabit God’s good earth.
Great Minds Think Alike
Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient for his anti-apartheid work, isn’t the only esteemed public figure to come forward with strongly proclaimed support for the rights and welfare of animals. Through the ages, there have been many such men and women.
Take a look at the list below. You’ll see an impressive collection of accomplished individuals who are revered for their scientific, literary or artistic achievements. These people are heroes to many. We strive to be a little more like them.
If we value their perspective on important issues, it’s worthwhile to know that these smart, savvy people spoke out — loudly and often — in support of the welfare and well-being of animals. Here’s a sampling of what they had to say:
1. Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) – American Founding Father, author, statesman, scientist and inventor
“My refusing to eat meat occasioned an inconveniency, and I have been frequently chided for my singularity. But my light repast allows for greater progress, for greater clearness of head and quicker comprehension.”
“Flesh eating is unprovoked murder.”
2. Charles Darwin (1809-1882) – English author and naturalist
“There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery.”
Photo credits: Animals image from Thinkstock; Dalai Lama image from russavia/ Wikimedia Commons; Singer image from Beyond My Ken/Wikimedia Commons; All other images from Wikimedia Commons (public domain)
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