Question: How do they compare?
Ingrid Newkirk: To me asking how to compare human life to animal life is asking the same question of the ‘60s – is how to compare a woman’s life to a man’s life. It used to be that people said, “Women will never be doctors. They’ll faint if you ever showed them into an operating room. They can’t take the sight of blood. And they’re too stupid to make a decision. You can’t give them the vote.” And these sorts of things that used to be thought. It used to be editorial comment in some of the finest newspapers in the land. So I believe that we have to step away from saying, “What’s the competition here?” and say, “What’s the cooperation here?” It’s that animals aren’t things. They aren’t inanimate. That’s where animal comes from – anime, the Latin for “life”. And they have feelings like us. They’re emotional beings. So we’re all into this together.
You know you don’t have to step across a homeless person to feed a starving dog. You don’t have to beat your wife in order to be kind to an animal in a lab. Just look at the whole gamut, the whole array of options and think we are one animal. They’re one animal. A man may not be able to do everything a woman can. A woman may not be able to do everything a man can. Maybe physical strength is one. But you can’t circumnavigate the globe the way some birds can without instrumentation. You can’t find your way home without a map the way some animals can. You can’t sniff out a hidden truffle under the ground and nourish yourself. You know we all have different talents and abilities. But the core interest is we all want to live without pain. We all want to live.
We struggle against the knife. We don’t want someone to mug us, capture us, hurt us, take our family away. Those are the things we share. We all fall in love. Birds flirt. You know animals; life mate. Many of them have a better fidelity rate than the moral majority, so we have to think we’re all in this together, not that it’s a competition. And maybe we do have to give up some things that we’ve become used to doing, but that’s a good thing not a bad thing.
Recorded on: November 12, 2007