On the website Animal Freedom liberty is
looked upon as a major good. There's nothing like liberty!
The joy, however, is slightly qualified because freedom
can't go without drawing
borders, but also because freedom does have less attractive sides. One-sided freedom in
economics can lead to the law of the jungle. This means
that whoever is economically in the strongest position
(and has the least scruples), determines how tasks and
labour are being organized. There is a danger then that
the well-being of the workers - man and animal - is not
taken into account anymore.
In an empty, meaningless life freedom leads to boredom.
In this article we outline the emptiness in both man's
and the animal's existence.
Boredom is a sign that the individual is not able to
meet himself and his inner needs, even when there is
sufficient time to do so. Progress in society brought
freedom. We no longer need to search for food all day
long. However, not everyone found a satisfying answer
yet to the question how to make life meaningful and
how one can live one's life in an optimum way and according
to one's nature. This goes for men and women, whereas
for the animal it goes that often enough it is being
withheld the circumstances it requires to be able to
live up to its natural disposition.
Everything that is natural for an animal, but takes
extra time and money within the farming business, is
being reduced there to the barest necessities. The same
fate, by the way, rests upon those people in society
who are not productive. The result is boredom. In our society we drive a hard bargain. Everything
is being organized as efficient as possible. The merriment
faded away, and all is left without frills. During our
hours of leisure, we have to make life attractive again.
While at work one is the bosses' slave, and while in
spare time a slave of making the very most of it. Addiction
is a continuation of weariness.
In our culture we are getting farther and farther away
from nature. In an artificial way some people try to
bring nature back a bit. Examples can be found in our
companionship with pets and with the animals in the
park or zoo.
We argue that some distance among people and among
man and animal is only natural and not so very wrong.
It is a way of paying respect. What matters, is how
you deal with that distance.
Pets and boredom
People keep pets to enjoy from
time to time, when it suits them, to have them around.
Many people imagine they are useful by offering a home
to an animal (and in the case of animals who were sheltered
in an asylum, this is a realistic opinion of course).
Others just think animals are there to amuse or please
When it's boss is away from home or at work or asleep,
the animal is supposed to wait and go it's own way a
bit in as far as it can in it's cage or in the house.
Not everyone asks himself if the animal feels (horribly)
bored inside it's cage.
For cats this situation usually works out best, as they
aren't kept in cages. But cats, well-cared for, that
are free to go outside do have a natural urge to hunt
other animals. As a consequence, yearly extra millions
and millions of animals are killed, simply and solely
because the cat had time left to catch them.
Of course this situation is not to be replaced by a
stray cat's life, in which the animal has to find it's
food all by itself. What this is, is an appeal to "bell
the cat" and not to take up a cat as your pet too
recklessly. Also it is a plea to have your pet neutered
in order to prevent it from having (too many) unwelcome offspring.
Limiting some freedom of domestic animals, enlarges
the freedom of other animals.
Animals in the park and boredom
Feeding the ducks in the park or the animals at the
children's zoo, in the company of small children: it
seems like an innocent pleasure. By doing so it would
also seem that the animals can profit from our prosperity.
The animals in the park look as if they take no part
in the affluent society, but by feeding them they are
nevertheless made dependent on people, and next to that
there is an other, unintended consequence.
In particular shortly before and during the nesting-season,
feeding the waterfowl in the park namely leads to extra
suffering. What normally takes all day long, is not
necessary anymore: the ducks don't need to look for
food no more. Boredom strikes. By their nature both
sexes are rather hot-blooded, and since there is no
need to look for food they have plenty of time. So what
better way to spend their time than by mating? The subsequent
turmoil and mating-rituals include heavy fights and
result into quite a lot of wounded birds.
What makes things extra dramatic is that ducklings
cannot be protected by their mothers during such times,
for meanwhile she's being chased again by the male ducks.
By NOT feeding ducks and other waterfowl during spring
and summer, you can to a large extent prevent that boredom
strikes with these animals. Having to find it's own
food, the bird is occupied with other matters and thus
distracted a bit from it's mating urge.
People feeling bored
Usually boredom is a luxury problem: there
is plenty of time, but you don't feel like doing anything.
When we think we have to spend our time as best as we
can, this condition of lethargy may become annoying
due to our feeling of guilt.
When being bored is the result of not knowing how to
handle freedom, freedom leads to emptiness, senselessness
(not seeing the sense in things instead of not feeling
like doing things) and loneliness. When you don't know
how to use freedom to be active in meaningful ways,
then freedom becomes an obstacle. A tension has to be
built up and sometimes such tension blows out, particularly
when drugs are used. It can lead to aggression, pointless
violence, excessive consumption of alcohol and drugs
or, in short, anything that may dispel the feeling of emptiness.
Sometimes people start to meddle themselves in a cultivated
way with activities mankind, in the past, used to undertake
for the need to obtain food: "stock-piling", angling,
hunting and tending cattle (i.e.: keeping pets). Such
pastimes give people a fancied feeling of occupying
themselves in "useful and natural" ways. Animals
become a source of amusement, with all its disadvantages.
The purchase of a pet for the purpose of chasing away boredom and loneliness
Grandma is all alone in her senior apartment and in
order to give her something to do, she gets a canary
so she'll have something to take care of. But does she
have to, at such an old age? The thought itself that
an animal brings some distraction is correct, but the
animal isn't being asked anything. And wouldn't it be
better if Grandma takes a little more exercise herself
to come into contact with other people, outside her
room? With the small bird in it's small cage in Grandma's
small room, now two beings are tied.
The quality of the communication between two or more
people is the best guarantee to avoid boredom and loneliness.
A talk with an animal is like a talk with yourself in the mirror.
If you wish to live after your
own nature, then the motto is: "Know your own motives
and try to find out how you can realize yourself and your
dreams in your very own manner." This know-how and
experience makes it easier to either empathize with someone
else or set a good example.
It is the challenge of modern times to create a filling-in
of natural life, without falling into reconstructing
some kind of "nature" on pocket-scale or into
a regression in time. It is old-fashioned to look for
imitating or surpassing nature, f.e. by rivalry in pursuing
sports or designing a "natural" garden with
a pond and animals on a few square meters only. It is
pointless and dangerous to try and shift our natural
limits by practices such as doping or extra training.
It brings a new addiction.
History's lesson is that liberty is not only something
we have to award ourselves with, but others as well:
mankind, and at present the animals. Becoming engaged
to help establish freedom for others, may very well
be the best meaning as a gift to one's own life. In
any case it is the best way to expect some good from
other people, voluntarily and without committing, and
it gives a clear conscience.
If you're a real good and creative cook, you're a gem
to yourself and to others. Being a vegetarian and not
keeping pets under boring circumstances, are healthy
and unconcerned ways to ensure your own freedom and
that of the animal. It prevents from boredom and situations
as described in this article.
These are just a few examples of a modern and social
conduct with regard to freedom and respect (proper distance).
Boredom and industrial farming
The animal kept in industrial farming,
although being (narrowly) housed and nourished, during
it's short life is supposed to only produce much and fast or grow quick
until it is considered ready to be slaughtered.
Not having to do and not being allowed to do ánything
for all one's entire and consecutive days, although
being given food and water, means a terribly empty and
dull life and therefore is one
of the major objections against factory farming.
Cattle farmers still hardly make efforts to prevent
cattle from growing bored. Only a futile and minor action
such as providing coarse fodder to pigs or a ball or
chains to play with, is considered to be sufficient
to avoid weariness and it's subsequent deviant behavior.
In expressing stress and boredom sows, spending entire
days and almost all their life between rods, start biting
and sucking these rods. Doing so is virtually their
only distraction. Animals housed in groups such as porkers,
due to boredom and aggression start biting and sucking
the tails of their companions. For that reason, pig-tails
are docked as a precaution.
It would be much better if animals could not get bored
because they could find enough distraction (outdoors)
in a natural environment. That would evoke their natural
behavior: scratching, grubbing, running, take dust-baths,
grazing etcetera. The natural situation enables the
animal to put forth it's intrinsic nature. Being able
to do so, is an/the intrinsic
value for/of the animal.
The (re-)creation of natural environment of course
costs money, but can't that be overcome? Also: is it
indeed necessary to eat so many animals by way of food?
Is it really social to keep, like The Netherlands do,
as many as 70% extra farm animals under minimal conditions
in order to conquer the consuming market of an other country?