Eugen Drewermann (born 1940)
is an inspired man, psychoanalyst and Catholic priest.
He was suspended from this last mentioned function on
grounds of his theological opinions. From both professions
he considers the relationship between man and animal.
He once said there are three things that he "hates":
war, money and the way in which we tend to go about with
animals. On the basis of his experience with people, he
states that fear brings man to
violence and aggression, both actually as well as economically,
also against animals.
Fear blockades ethical acting
Christian dogmatics have uplifted man to the centre
of the universe and the purpose of the evolution. Therefore
everything, also the animal, is inferior to and for
the benefit of man and ethics in respect of animals
have not come to development. But: when you do not act
ethical when animals are concerned, can you yet
do so in respect of people?
Ethics are, we can say, focussed on letting people live
in esteem and appreciation for each other. No-one obliges
you to do so but when you do, it enriches your life.
It reliefs and brings a satisfaction that you carry
forth all your life and that helps to shape your personality.
When people are indifferent to animals or, we can subjoin, to the weaker members
of society, they do not take an ethical position and
bring harm not only to the other fellow but to themselves
as well. And it always turns out that he who once disregards
the distress of someone else, finds himself on a slippery
slope. Man, modern man certainly, is aware of the finiteness
and fortuity of his existence (of his "contingency").
He has lost confidence in de grounds of his existence
and therefore does his utmost to create his own securities:
military, socially and nowadays above all economically.
He subordinates everything to them and by doing so loses
Our conception of God has changed, what next?
Modern secular man no longer has a God that he can derive his right to exist from. At
most he can acknowledge that there exists a universal
awareness or eternal energy, that he rests upon. But
once he has this experience he knows it is good that
he exists in the way he does, and that he needs not
to prove himself all the time. Subsequently he can quiet
down and will put an end to his strive for power, for
superiority, for economic growth: that cancerous tumour
that must grow all the time at the cost of the organism
that hosts it. Then he no longer suffers from himself
and can have an eye for the weaklings, amongst which
In the love (compassion) between people who truly are
themselves without fear, the
other is given freedom while both keep their responsibilities.
You help the other person to go his way in his own manner.
That basic attitude can be applied further to animals.
When it concerns animals man has a greater responsibility because they, just as children, have lesser hold on their situation. In the ever diminishing free space
on earth man has to influence circumstances in such
way that also the animal can maintain its freedom.