Compartmentalizing Compassion

Posted by Dana Campbell, ALDF's Chief Contract Attorney on September 24, 2007

Can I just say that if I hear someone say one more time “why is there such an outcry for animal cases when humans are hurt all the time and those cases don’t get the same outcry as animals” my head will explode? Because I am really just so sick of it, especially when it comes from folks who should know better, like police officers and prosecutors and even media commentators. Perhaps if they merely thought it through they’d see the answer, but allow me to express how I usually respond to such comments: I have enough compassion to empathize and be truly concerned about both kinds of cases–my compassion is not a finite amount, nor is it mutually exclusive in how it is expressed. How silly to suggest that folks like me would be any different! Perhaps it is the commentators themselves who are unable to care about or address more than one problem at a time.

My household includes both children and nonhuman animals, and I am deeply concerned about the world they live in now, and the one we’ll be leaving them. However, one doesn’t need to be a lawyer to recognize that our criminal and civil justice system was long ago set up to protect and accommodate human victims–even children and the mentally incompetent have innumerable laws and agencies and regulations protecting them, and they must have advocates appointed to represent their interests in court. We trust the courts will work to help them, as they’ve done for a long time, without any outcry needed.

But our courts are sorely lacking in even recognizing nonhuman animals, let alone protecting them or giving them any measure of justice. Changing that fact is my particular concern and passion, and that is what I spend my days working to improve, through better laws and educating those who work in the legal system. The fact I work for animals does not mean that I do not also hurt when I read about people who are hurt, or write letters or put my dollars toward those cases as well. My compassion cannot be compartmentalized.

In the meantime I and other like-minded folks understand that change for animals is still a long way off, and until it comes there will be a huge outcry when we see them harmed and those cases come to light, and I won’t apologize for it.

Now let’s go out there and make this a kinder, gentler world for all of the vulnerable creatures with whom we share it.

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