Matthieu Ricard’s letter to Frank McKenna
501 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20001
Myself and a number of people around me have been greatly dismayed to hear about the proposed authorization by your government of the killing of a great number of seals in a very brutal way. It is still quite dismaying that people and governments regularly continue to believe that other living beings don’t have the slightest intrinsic right, even the one of remaining alive.
Simply because they are not able to talk, stage demonstrations and, I guess, vote. Yet, those seals suffer just like any other living being would suffer when being beaten to death by clubs.
As Jeremy Bentham wrote: “A full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day, or a week, or even a month, old. But suppose the case were otherwise, what would it avail? The question is not, Can they reason? nor Can they talk? but Can they suffer?”
As a Tibetan master wrote: “A compassionate person is kind even when angry, someone without compassion kills with a smile.”
I guess that everyone feels a bit powerless when confronted with government's decisions. But after all, aren't goverment supposed to represent people? All what a few people's representatives need is a will to intervene. That would seem a pretty reasonable one.
Matthieu Ricard, Ph-D,
French interpreter of the Dalai Lama
Knight of the French National Order of Merit,
GANDHI, MOHANDAS (1869-1948, Hindu nationalist leader and social reformer)
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.
DA VINCI, LEONARDO (1452-1519)
Truly man is the king of beasts, for his brutality exceeds theirs. We live by the death of others: We are burial places!
BENTHAM, JEREMY (1748-1832, English philosopher, economist and jurist).
The day may come when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those rights which never could have been withholden from them but by the hand of tyranny.... It may come one day to be recognized that the number of legs, the villosity of the skin, or the determination of the os sacrum are reasons equally insufficient for abandoning a sensitive being of the same fate. What else is it, that should trace the insuperable line? Is it the faculty of reason or, perhaps, the faculty of discourse? But a full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day, or a week, or even a month, old. But suppose the case were otherwise, what would it avail? The question is not, Can they reason? nor Can they talk? but Can they suffer?
(from The Principles of Morals and Legislation)
SCHOPENHAUER, ARTHUR (1788-1860, German philosopher)
Since compassion for animals is so intimately associated with goodness of character, it may be confidently asserted that whoever is cruel to animals cannot be a good man.