Freedom, boredom and addiction

Freedom and the emptiness of existence

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. pigsIn 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 people. 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?

logoThis page describes one aspect of the influence that man has on the quality of life of an animal. We wish to promote the (in other countries as well) growing of awareness, that freedom is also important for an animal. An animal is not a thing, but a being that has the right to quality of a natural way of life. If you want to do something to help animals, click here for our suggestions.

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