Updated: Apr 25, 2019
I thought long and hard of how to introduce this post as much of it doesn't make for easy reading but I feel that any attempt to soften it up would be disrespectful to those who are a part of it.
Many years ago, when I was 19 years old and at the beginning of my previous career as a Analytical Chemist, I went for an interview at a well-known hospital in Glasgow. I was taken to the roof, a floor inaccessible to patients and far away from the main hospital, where I saw a variety of animals in cages. I was told this was where research took place, which involved various forms of animal experimentation. I was told that parts of the job would be a little unpleasant. I had thought that inflicting suffering on these confined souls was appalling enough and I struggled to think of what could be worse.
I was taken to a small windowless cupboard that contained a sink and worktop, various chemicals, disposable gloves and aprons and a metal bar over the sink. I was told that if a project was funded to experiment on 100 new mice and the existing mice gave birth to 150 mice, 50 mice are considered surplus to requirements and need to be killed. The successful candidate would be required to take these 'surplus' mice, and one by one, grasp their head and face with one hand and their body with the other and with violent force, smack the neck and throat of the mouse against the bar with the intention of breaking its neck. If the mouse did not die, then you did it again. And again. And again, until the mouse died. I left that hospital with the most overwhelming feelings of horror and sadness that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
Animal Free Research
As I write this, the whole experience is as clear as it was almost 30 years ago and sadly not a great deal has changed in this time in regard to animal testing. Despite there being incredibly accurate - which can be successfully argued are more accurate - ways of experimentation which don't involve animals, almost 4 million experiments were conducted on animals last year in the UK and almost half of these related to the creation or breeding of genetically altered animals who were not used in further experiments. In other words, bred for experimentation and surplus to requirements, just like the mice.
There has been some significant developments in animal free research - charities like Animal Free Research UK www.animalfreeresearchuk.org was founded in 1970 by the Dr Hadwen Trust for Humane Research, and non-government funded organisations such as Animal Aid www.animalaid.org.uk who campaign tirelessly and peacefully against animal abuse.
The Golden Rule
The Golden Rule is the principle of treating others as one would wish to be treated. There are good reasons why many cultures around the world consider it a cornerstone of their teachings. All life matters. As the caretakers of the Earth, it is our responsibility to ensure all life is respected and cared for, both human and animals alike. Exactly what I was expected to do to those mice would be reflected in myself, in all of us. Those mice were considered disposable, replaceable products without feelings or intelligence. And that is how I was expected to be in that job – devoid of feeling, emotion or connection to another living creature.
What damages other living creatures also damages us. The great news is that it’s the same for love – the love we receive from animals is reciprocated when we truly connect with them. Animals make us want to be the lovely person that they think we are, that they instinctively trust that we are, in the very core of our being, in the essence of ourselves, in our souls. Animals have the wisdom to show us the ways of connecting with another living soul, showing us the ways to love and respect each other, helping us to understand the human in humane.
Copyright © Andrea Doran, Flourish and Contributors - Original Date of Publication August 2018 | For personal use and information only