Monday, June 11, 2007

Humans should only be concerned with humans

I received an email from someone early in the morning on Saturday. This person was unhappy because he or she (they did not sign off) saw someone feeding the cats. The caregiver explained all the cats were sterilised and that they were cared for.

This person then complained that despite the altruistic aims of the feeder, this was all misguided and that as humans we should 'only be concerned with humans'.

The person wanted to know why animals should not be left alone as long as no one was abusing them. He wanted to know why the caregiver didn't look after hungry people in North Korea or in Africa. The person asked for a reply.

I wrote back almost right away as I was still up. I pointed out that the caregiver was helping to sterilise and manage the cats so the population was under control. This also meant the cats were less likely to forage in the garbage and make a mess.

I also said that caregivers, just like anyone else, help whom they can and whom they come across. Putting aside the very simplistic argument that feeding the people in North Korea or Africa would in fact solve the problem (because as everyone knows, shortage of food is just one of the byproducts of the many problems these countries face), caregivers don't live in North Korea or Africa and are unlikely to have the money to travel there and maintain a food programme and the infrastructure that requires.

In addition, I pointed out that the writer must certainly realise that even within 'helping people' there are so many different categories - and that people help out where they best can help whether it be with people or with animals. If one starts picking and choosing whom is more 'deserving' of help then where would it end? Are children more 'needy'? Do the elderly deserve more help than people who are physically disabled? What about abused women and so on and so forth.

I also pointed out that the writer assumes that because people help with animals they don't help people - in fact I've found that to be quite untrue. There are quite a number of people who do both.

Interestingly, I've found that people who tend to ask these questions tend not to be involved themselves. When I've met up with other non-animal NGOs, they are always supportive.

It is also sad that someone would get so upset that someone is feeding cats. How does it take away from their well-being to know that someone is trying to make the life of a small creature a little better by giving them a bit of food and sterilising and managing them?



Blogger VeganCatsg said...

This is a good humourous posting to start the week. Perhaps Dawn should ask this person, whom has he or she help? At the end of the day, the object of one's help really is immaterial but that one is willing to put aside self-interest to help others, to develop compassion for others, and this compassion can gradually extend to other beings as well. This is the beauty of the diversity of life - we all are different and we each have our own "callings". Would this person called Dian Fossey for "wasting" her life studying "only gorillas"?

11/6/07 11:17 AM  
Anonymous Saltwetfish said...

I wondered if the writer have been feeding people in North Korea or Ethiopia?

11/6/07 11:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whether or not it is concern for humans or concern for animals, it is called basic kindness to another sentient being around you.

Examples: Westerners during their colonization era encountered the Native Indians and the Aborginal people of Australia. As to the westerners, they were less than human and "savages" They were hunted down like animals. In Australia, there was even a program not unlike genocide to hunt every last aborginal down. The children that were still alive were then divided by their skin colour, those deem to be suitable for "coversion" meaning they had fair skin were given to orphanages to be raised as semi whites, the ones deemed uncovertable as they were too dark... well one can only guess what happened to them. This was shown in a documentary I watched in Australia.

Back to the topic.... it shows how when a person decides to classify animals as less deserving, one day he or she can also easily call another race, social class animals and treat them with contempt. It is not fantasy, it has already happened and it will happen again.

11/6/07 11:28 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

The worry about this logic also is that only certain classes 'deserve' to be helped. And it has shown itself as Anonymous said, to bring out the worst in people.

11/6/07 11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone has a right to do what one thinks is right. Do others have to comform to her reasoning (or zero-reasoning)?
God gives each of us "talents" and a caring heart for animals is one which is not given to all ; p Some of the days most of us (who care for animals) wish we are not blessed that way too.
Simply put, tell her to mind her business. Whom we choose to help is not hers and anyone's business.

11/6/07 11:59 AM  
Blogger budak said...

Animals and nature deserve more than just a little concern from humans, given the sheer amount of damage we have done to them, in decimating their populations, causing extinctions, destroying habitats and ill treatment of captive/domestic animals.

Seen on Stomp: Singapore turtle in hot soup...

11/6/07 12:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The writer of that email is truly teh one who is "MISGUIDED". May you guide her, him or IT, to read the comments here but then again, a person like this is likely to remain blind. The worrisome thing about this person, our fellow human being, can bring a lot of harms by complaining to higher authorities!

11/6/07 12:15 PM  
Blogger budak said...

interesting response to a similar accusation (ironically from a conservative source):

You Care More About Animals Than People! at

11/6/07 12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've come across quite a few of such people .. I've been asked why I don't take up a more 'deserving' cause than caring for the community cats or caring for my cats & the community cats is a good hobby ... *sigh*


11/6/07 12:45 PM  
Blogger EJ. said...

Most humans have politicians to take care of their well beings (or in some cases not take care). Animals?? They depend on the kindness and compassion of humans most.

11/6/07 1:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

some of my colleagues have seen cat and dog food constantly inside my car boot. they have questioned me and had specifically asked why am i not happening humans instead. the idiotic ones actually told me that i am doing something 'evil' by using resources for beasts instead of humans. my friend who is a cat caregiver at labrador park has been verbally insulted by a seemingly educated young man infront of his kid for feeding cats. he distinctively chided her for not helping children instead of cats and his reason is that only children are the leaders of the future. W.T.F. I see it the same way as vegancatsg. Each has his own 'calling'. there are also people who give to and help the poor, the diabetics, the autistics, the orphans, the aged while we some of us give to the cats, the dogs, the rabbits and a combination at certain point in time. - orange -
PS to the person who emailed Dawn: when i travel, i carry CAT FOOD in my bag and feed the hungry ANIMALS of that country i am visiting. and i shall do just that when i visit korea and africa. neh-neh-neh-neh-neh--NEH.

11/6/07 1:52 PM  
Anonymous yskat said...

There is an emerging body of scholarship on the role played by animals in enabling "human civilisation". Put simply (or simplistically), thinkers in this field argue that much of "human achievements" were attained with the simultaneous suffering of animals, and any study of human societies should take into account their unknowledged contribution. This line of inquiry kind of followed from how "first world achievements" cannot be looked at without also discussing issues of slavery, child labour, colonisation, etc, and is also related to the newish literature on human-machine relatinoship and environmental studies.

11/6/07 2:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Genuine kindness extends to anything and everything, anyone and anyone. Someone who is truly kind-hearted will help both humans and animals. He or she will care for the environment too. Kindness knows NO boundaries. For those who think kindness should only be shown to human beings, well, they are the 'diseased parts' of our society. I won't be surprised that whenever (and if ever) these people commit acts of kindness, they only do it for show. So much for a civil society.

11/6/07 2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Dawn,
Since this person requested for a reply from you, could you update us on his acknowledgement to your answers? I wonder how much it takes to create a convert, is the majority ill-informed or just plain selfish/ single-dimensional. Some people are just so obstinate to classify animals as living beings alike and there goes our endless cycle of education and persuasion...

11/6/07 3:36 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

I certainly will koratmao. So far no reply.

11/6/07 4:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a "human" doctor and I carry cat food with me in my doctor's bag!!

11/6/07 5:11 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

That's the other interesting thing - people assume that if you are helping animals, that you don't help people. Strange.

11/6/07 5:16 PM  
Anonymous Homosapiens said...

Is this person's IQ higher than that of Albert Einstein who said,
"A human being is a part of a whole, called by us _universe_, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest... a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."

Perhaps he/she can learn EQ from Albert Einstein.

11/6/07 5:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Deserving" of help - that is nice way of putting it. In SG, the ones helped are the ones with promises - like the so-called gifted ones (gifted to study only lah), the agile ones good in sports (the beautiful and hugh Sports School), the ones who could contribute to SG in short.
If they are already "gifted", why do they need more help with smaller classes, special teachers, special facilities etc etc ?
The ones who need help like the children with disabilities, the orphans, disadvantaged - where are the grand buildings? They are lucky to have some discarded buildings.
With such attitude from the Govt, you cannot blame the person from thinking cats are "un-deserving".
The rich&powerful deserves more and the poor&hungry....well, leave them alone. Don't feed.

11/6/07 6:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Because the gifted translates into BIG TIME CEO's and other money making high-end executives who will keep the economy spinning to pay BIG FAT SALARIES!

11/6/07 6:29 PM  
Anonymous cat talk said...

People were saying they thought I was cranky for spending thousands of dollars on stray cats and that I should help humans first.

If they expect the cat feeder to feed the hungry millions from Africa and Korea, then they are being very rude, shallow and jealous of the love the cats are receiving.

Every one deserves to be treated kindly, even the ant that crawls across my lunch table gets to live.
The garden snail is allowed in my garden as well but the termites must go-lah.

11/6/07 6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually the lady is so right in scolding cat lovers. You should all be ashame of yourselves for help animals.... they are after all of no economic value. Yes at the same time we should not help the old, the handicapped and the mentally disabled, after all they are useless..... And kids in less developed countries? Help them all? No.... we must do IQ test, help only those smart ones and those who will obey our beliefs, be it democracy or religion. Only those smart and obedient ones, we will help. The rest of them all? I say we just gas them like how great Hilter gas all who are an hinderance to the great Aryan people....

(please read between the lines.... dont take my words literally.)

11/6/07 7:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if this person's remark is based on his or her religious indoctrination that animals are created soul-less and to be dominated by Man and not be served by Man?

11/6/07 9:37 PM  
Anonymous cat talk said...

The God I worship has never said animals are souless.

Only humans would say animals are worthless and souless. I walked into a big church and ' explained to the church elders that Jesus would be delighted to see stray feeders tending to the sick, Humanhungry, lonely strays and that his church workers are to stop making misleading statements about God that only the church would help human beings and not animals.

He agreed and said the workers must refrain from scolding stray feeders who feed cats within church premises.

Some ignorant so-called Christians misrepresent God by speaking badly about animals.

11/6/07 10:26 PM  
Anonymous belle said...

reason is that only children are the leaders of the future. W.T.F.

this is so chinese-sy *LOL*

its like something out of a civics textbook which was conducted in mother-tongue (ie. mandarin) when i was in school ...

11/6/07 11:53 PM  
Blogger Hai~Ren said...


SIGH... *facepalms*

I think too many people just fail to realise just how dependent we are on other species, simply because we're so happily sealed away in our little cubicles and homes, where any other non-human visitor is treated as vermin, even harmless or helpful species.

Indeed, society would never have been the same today. If not for the dog at our side as fellow hunter and guardian, the various hooved animals as providers of meat, milk, material and labour, the cat as pest control and companion, and so many more species, we would never have ended up where we are today. And that's just the mammals.

12/6/07 3:00 AM  
Anonymous sandy said...

the person in the letter is a poor pitiful soul who has never experienced the joy animals can bring that fellow humans cannot.

12/6/07 6:17 AM  
Anonymous useful names said...

which Sandy are you? Any way, agree with what you said.

12/6/07 12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i agree with vegancat too, different pple have their own callings. some to human needs, some to animal needs, some to environmental needs & we shld never force any other being out of their own preferred agenda.

12/6/07 12:26 PM  

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