Thursday, February 28, 2013

What, Exactly, is Stewardship Over the Creatures of the Earth?

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, and let them rule
over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the
earth and over all the creatures that move along the ground." – Genesis 1:26.

According to the Bible, God placed humanity in charge of the earth and all the creatures in it. He gave us specific instructions on which ones could be used for food, clothing, etc. Nowhere in the Scriptures does He give us permission to torture them for any reason—yet this is exactly what happens in laboratories around the world every day, usually in the name of scientific research, but sometimes for something so trivial as the development of cosmetics. Innocent creatures—from mice and rats to family pets stolen right out of our front yards—are tortured and abused in horrific ways, their bodies discarded when they are of no further use to the so-called scientists.

I've seen one such lab with my own eyes. It was a long time ago, when I was in college. I was working part-time at a hospital connected to the medical school. A couple of the security guards showed me the lab. It's a sight I'll never forget as long as I live.

These days, I get regular emails from both PETA and Causes. PETA's newsletters are hard to look at—but I can't look away, because to do so would do nothing to help the millions of animals tortured in research facilities every day. Yesterday, for example—there was the story of a cat named Double Trouble. I wondered who named her, because I doubt anyone in the lab where she was used for research cared enough about her to give her a name. Read her horrific story, if you can—and the story of the efforts of actor James Cromwell and others to put a stop to the experiments being conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The fight they started must continue until these unnecessary experiments are stopped once and for all.

Two years ago, my beloved grey-cheeked parakeet, Sam, died at the age of twenty-one. That's old for a bird of his species. Until the last weeks of his life, he was a happy, healthy bird. Then he developed a tumor on his left wing. It grew rapidly until there was very little of the wing left. I took him to an avian specialist, who told me what I'd already suspected: Sam was dying. He advised me to have Sam euthanized that day, but I couldn't. I could tell Sammy was scared and wanted to go home.

Sam had to die at home.

I explained this, and Dr. Kersting understood. He gave me meds to keep Sam comfortable for whatever time he might have left. In the next seven days, Sam lost the ability to even climb or walk—he pulled himself around using his beak. He wanted me to hold him all the time, so I kept him close by. I gave him his meds and as much comfort as I could. He no longer slept in his cage, but on a pillow in a small plastic crate next to me at night. When the time came, he died cradled in my arms.

Sam left this world feeling all the love and comfort Collin and I were able to give him—but how had Double Trouble and others like her died? In agony, likely wondering what they had done to deserve such abuse? Starving, riddled with pain? Blinded, deafened? And for what? What has this alleged research accomplished?

I wonder...if we were not the “superior” species on this planet, if we were snatched off the street and tortured and abused and discarded, how would we feel? Would that be all right, as long as it was done in the name of scientific research? Probably not....


  1. It's horrifying, to say the least.

    And we have the audacity to call ourselves superior.

    1. There's a line I love from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home--I'm trying to remember the precise words.... Spock says, "If we believe these creatures are ours to do with as we please, we are no better than those who caused their extinction."

  2. It does boggle the mind. Fortunately Sam's spirit is always with you. Poor little Double Trouble didn't have a chance.

  3. How wonderful you were able to keep Sam for so long. Birds are special to me too, mainly because of being very sensitive to their horrific extinction rates where I grew up. Animal research is a very difficult and sad thing, I wonder if there is a way to conduct animal research humanely.

    1. Without killing them? I don't think that's possible, Lulu. The only answer is to stop it completely.

      Birds--all creatures, really, with the exception of humans--are attuned to the natural world in amazing ways. I used to joke that Sam was hallucinating, but it wasn't so much that he was seeing things that weren't there. He was seeing things I couldn't see.

  4. What is stewardship? God gave us rules to follow. He also gave us free will. Are we following His rules?

    How we treat others, animals included, display our values. Notice how frequently people who openly speak of God and His rules are denigrated. Perhaps the popularity of God as punchline reflects the same force that permits animals to tortured.

    1. Sadly, Lynn, more often than not, we don't follow His rules. Too many of us have no real values. It's easier to look away from what makes us uncomfortable, to pretend it does not exist, than to act to change it. It's easier to condone what we know is wrong by saying we're not supposed to sit in judgment.

      I far will it go? How low will we sink before we admit we need healing?

  5. We've just got to keep doing what you've just done Norma, bringing peoples attention to it. I'm so ashamed of us as a race when I hear some of the things that go on in the name of research. A particular bugbear to all Australians in particular is the Japanese whaling, I seriously think they just think its their right and a tradition that's happened always but it has to stop, I take my hat off to the activists on The Sea Shepherd who will not give up the fight until they make them stop.

  6. My hat's off to the Sea Shepherd as well! When we all call out in one voice, they'll have to listen to us!

    Thank you, Grace!

  7. I am so glad your Sam flew to his next big adventure surrounded by love and family. I can only hope for a world where all animals are afforded the same respect and dignity we humans would expect from each other. Take care


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