By C.V. Wigneswaran –
There is an Animal Welfare Bill coming up before Parliament soon. The subject is topical. Let me state my views generally.
It was King Ashoka who became a Buddhist after the Kalinga War who first officially built various facilities and accessories and brought in Laws to ensure Animal Welfare.
There are two types of people or two types of thoughts that prevail among human beings regarding Animal Welfare.
Some say we owe nothing to the Animals. Others differ. They recognize that Animals, Birds and all living beings have rights because they share this Planet with the humans and humans cannot arrogate everything for themselves.
The first category believes that animals have been created for their benefit. Let the Animals look after themselves, we will look after ourselves, they say. They are people who will kill animals not only for food but for profit also. When an animal kills another animal it kills for food. Once its hunger is appeased the carnivorous animal would not kill until it is hungry again. Human beings kill not for their hunger only but for profit also.There lies the reason for cruelty among humans towards the animals. Once profit becomes our main motive we would go on killing.
The animal would not be a living being. It would be a target for our profit. They go on killing to make their personal profit. Because killing becomes their instinct, cruelty to animals and other beings do not affect their feelings nor consciousness.
In recent times we had a war in Sri Lanka. We called each other by animal names and killed each other mercilessly. We refer to animals as being wild, ferocious, frightening and brutal but human beings adopting animal names have acted most cruelly, brutally and vulgarly. The Lions and Tigers are noble creatures. But we humans who Christen ourselves as Lions and Tigers have brought a bad name to them having borrowed their names to call ourselves.
I referred to one section of people who did not accept that animals have rights, that they have to be protected and their welfare should be our concern.
There is the other section of people who think like King Ashoka. What was a noble quality in him was that he changed for the better unlike many modern politicians. He was brutal in his wars until the end of the Kalinga War. The Kalinga war he won but over 300000 people died. 300000 at that time was a huge amount. His demeanour changed after hearing the words of wisdom of the Buddha. He understood the meaning of Love. Earlier he hated everyone except himself and his Military and those closely related to him. Now he understood the need to Love all whether friend or foe; Love all whether human or animal; Love all whether in luxury or in penury. His changes in outlook were put into effect by him. He took measures to save the Animals, wild or tame. So the concern for animals must come from our hearts and not our brains. Brains only see a problem from the point of view of the Self. But the heart feels. That feeling could pervade the Universe. It is expansive and all encompassing.
Animal welfare must be seen from the larger perspective of Love towards all beings, compassion towards all beings and sympathy towards all beings. It must be seen from the perspective of Empathy which puts us into the shoes of others and make us feel the way the other beings feel.
I have not seen the Animal Welfare Bill. But I am 100 percent in favour of providing all help, protection, facilities and aid for the Animals. Nay! for all living beings!
*Justice C.V. Wigneswaran – Member of Parliament, Jaffna District.