“We are brought together by a much more fundamental fact. We know this basic truth within the most sacred chambers of our hearts.”
Cited from The Penguin Book of Modern Speeches.
Held on May 4th, 2012. Greenwich, UK.
“We have gathered here, brothers and sisters, to transcend. To transcend the boundaries of race. Since time immemorial—at least, to our best knowledge, since the last Ice Age—we have been separated, splintered, into shards. These shards we call races.
We tell ourselves and one another that this race, or that one, is superior; it stands above all others. Some individuals are of purer breed, we say; some belong to this land more than others. Some races are favored and pampered, others exploited and made to bow.
But it is not race that unites us, nor defines us. Any attempt to unite into races ultimately leads to division and estranges us from our true selves. And thus, race alone can never make us strong. We are brought together by a much more fundamental fact. We know this basic truth within the most sacred chambers of our hearts: that we are dogs.
Let this transcendence ring through all of us, through all races and breeds—beagle, poodle, greyhound, terrier, bulldog, dachshund, dalmatian, golden retriever, from the chihuahua to the great Dane—we have the love of all dogkind within us. That is what makes us dogs. It is universal. We hold this truth to be self-evident, that all dogs are created equal by a single divine creator, who created Dog in His image.
Let our howls chime as bells across this land, across every land and clime, until this simple message is recognized and made fully manifest: that each pup shall know that she will never be judged by the color and patterns of her fur, but only by the virtues of her character and the scent of her excrement.
This holds true for hound, pedigree and mongrel alike. Injustice must come to an end; and it will come to an end. May we be able to crouch and huddle together at bowls filled with food and water we generously share; at the bowls of brotherhood.
But, my fellow dogs, let us not stop there.”
[Pause—sad eyes gazing deeply into the distance. Stars begin to appear in the clearing skies.]
“There is an issue that lies even beyond race.
When we reach into the simple kindness that lies at the foundation of our doggity, we know in our hearts that we have mistreated them. We have used them. We have exploited them. We have driven them from their natural habitats for the most trivial of concerns.
We use them for food, for toil, for clothes, for leashes, for shelter, for company. But how do we repay them? With slavery, death and extrajudicial punishment.
Has our divine creator granted us this right over the non-dog animals? I say non-dog animals, for we too are animals, albeit endowed with unique traits. Is this not the same mode of thought that has hitherto enabled the degradation of whole races of our fellow dogs?
It is true, as you might say, that the animals have little means to voice their concerns. Can we then know if they too have valid interests? They cannot bark, howl and whimper as we. They cannot lick, show teeth, sniff buts and wag their tails in cultured and meaningful manners. But is the fault theirs that we fail to understand them? Have we not every reason to believe, that all the lower animals, too, have emotions—if not as enriched as our own?
It can make us wonder, indeed, if dogs are not chosen and endowed with supremacy by Heaven. Can the animals truly smell as we can? They lack our snouts, it is true. Can they know the joy of playing pups, know the depth of motherhood? Can they feel the profound bond of the pack and its responsibilities? Can they be enthralled by the sublime scent and refined femininity of a bitch? Can they love? Can they dream at night and howl to the heavens?
I alone cannot answer for all the non-dog animals. We must seek the answers in them. Cows we eat and use for leather—but is there suffering in their moos and bellows? Pigs we eat, sheep, cats and birds we chase, humans we let work for us to give us food and shelter and we keep them as pets. What do we smell in each of these animals? Can we smell fear and pain in them?
Let us speak of humans specifically. In their murmurs there is little meaning to us beyond simple requests that we sit, fetch something, or reach out our paws to them. But many of us have kept humans for company and convenience, and many of us will have known affection for our own humans, as though they were part of our pack. And I have no doubt that many have felt that their humans loved them back. It may be a simpler form of love, but it is there.
Humans have sometimes been called Dog’s best friend. They are our pets. Of course, they lack the dignity to walk on four legs and perpetually lean on their hind legs as beggars. We keep them close to us, and perhaps for this reason, we treat them differently than we do other non-dog animals. But are they so different from the others? Does our little creek of solidarity with them not lead us to a river of solidarity with many other mammals; a river which in turn is strengthened until it leads into an ocean of love and compassion for all sentient beings?
We need not ask of one another to manifest this oceanic love each day. For just as doggity is created in the image of the divine, so is each of us, after all, only a dog. But can we a least extend a simple caring for the non-dog animals? We are, unlike many other animals, blessed to be omnivores; we need not feast upon the flesh and blood of the oppressed. Can we at least show them this simple courtesy? Yes, our ancestors hunted and ate flesh, but today we have more choices and better knowledge.
Yes, the animals harm and devour one another. And they fail to take even the simplest perspectives of other species. Just look at the humans; they destroy other animals without any apparent concern. Just as we are canine-centric, seeing Dog as the measure of all things, so they are anthropo-centric, believing that life and existence revolves around them.
But they are non-dog animals; what should we expect? Should we hold ourselves to the standards of cats, birds, monkeys and squirrels? Should we, as lions, who also eat flesh, kill the cubs of rival males after a divorce? Have we come no farther?
If it means anything at all to be a dog being, surely it must be that we can rise above cruelty and indifference against the animals with which we, after all, share ancestry?
If we are animals, let us not act as animals; let us for once become the good dogs we are meant to be—and show simple kindness towards the non-dog animals. Let us be able to say to ourselves: ‘Good dog! That a boy! Attagirl!’
It is our destiny to transcend the boundaries of race. And it is the destiny of dogs to transcend the boundaries of species.”
[Howls and barks fill the air, proud snouts turned skyward under the onset of a moonlit night.]
Hanzi Freinacht is a political philosopher, historian and sociologist, author of ‘The Listening Society’, and the upcoming books ‘Nordic Ideology’ and ‘The 6 Hidden Patterns of World History’. Much of his time is spent alone in the Swiss Alps. You can follow Hanzi on his Facebook profile here.
Today’s tune, “Tearz for Animals” by CocoRosie: