So many times I have heard nature film makers smugly justify leaving animals to suffer and die quite needlessly. When challenged they come out with various nonsensical statements of utter hypocrisy. Human beings are moral agents upon the face of the earth. They have a type of duty to all feeling creatures that they come into contact with. Nature film makers think that this doesn’t apply to them.
Indeed they say things as ‘its wrong to interfere with nature’, they say this clothed and shod, living in a centrally heated house and as the users of cars, trains and planes, if it was wrong to interfere with nature then they should go and live in the bush, wear a leather thong and carry a spear. Of course the whole idea is nonsense, our whole lives are an example of interfering with nature.
I remember once watching a nature cameraman cum presenter on BBC Spring Watch film an orphaned seal pup in the Hebrides as it hopelessly called for its mother. Saving that pup’s life would simply have been a matter of walking down to the waters edge scooping it up and finding an adoptive or foster home for it with some island dwelling family or a charity – it’s cuteness meant that success in this task would have been guaranteed Godwilling, but no he left the poor little thing to die of cold, hunger and thirst.
The whole direction of nature film making has taken a very unhealthy turn in the last couple of decades as well. Older nature films tended to show the beauty of nature and its very real peace and tranquility. Modern nature films tend to almost exclusively focus upon drama, violence and constant tie-ins to highly speculative evolutionary ideas. The new breed of nature film maker has no interest in the several years Mr gazelle happily munches away, reproduces and goes about his life – they are only interested in the dramatic chase at the end of his days that ends with him being gored to death by a big cat.
Furthermore I have seen several modern nature documentaries where I have been pretty sure that the film crew deliberately manipulated wild animals into situations that would provide the crew with more dramatic footage, but at the cost of the suffering and death of some of these unwilling tele-circus participants (with greater chance of winning them acclaim and awards). As I have no proof of this other than strong and repeated signs and clues I will not go into specific instances, but if I am not mistaken some successful modern nature film makers are nothing short of psychopaths and little better than bear baiters (for known and proven examples of such things in older nature films see here)
In reality nature is far less dramatic than the impression given in nature documentaries. This is why dramatic emotion music and slow motion shots of natural hunting violence form such regular features in the films of the people who wish to replace reality with Hollywood.
I have spent much of my life very close to nature and its beauties and I have spent a long time observing the ever moving circle of life. Animals are born, animals go through their infancy and mature, animals live their lives, animals do their things, animals reproduce and sooner or later they die. All these things are as God made them. In reality there is no dramatic musical sound track to stir the feelings and even in life and death there is not usually a great deal of drama in nature, just animals living as they have for millions of years. There is suffering however and wherever we come face to face with it and we are able to help – then we should do so.
‘Yes there is a meritorious reward for kindness to every living creature’
“If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures
from the shelter of compassion and pity,
you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.”
(Francis of Assisi)
There is not an animal in the earth,
nor a flying creature flying on two wings,
but they are peoples like unto you…
(Holy Qur’an, Surah al-Anam, verse 38)
“I will not kill or hurt any living creature needlessly,
nor destroy any beautiful thing,
but will strive to save and comfort all gentle life,
and guard and perfect all natural beauty upon the earth.”
(John Ruskin, Artist & Social Thinker)
The creatures are the family of God –
Thus He is most dear to God of all people
who treats them kindly.
(Bayhaqi in al-Sha’b Narrated by Abu Hurayrah)
Those who are kind and affectionate
to God’s creatures,
He bestows His kindness and affection upon them.
Therefore show kindness
to the dwellers of the earth
so that God
may show mercy and kindness to you.
Fear God in your treatment of the animals…
(Abu Da’ud, Sunan)
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress
can be judged by the way its animals are treated.
(Mahatma Gandhi, Father of India)
Why should man expect his prayer for mercy to be heard
by What is above him
when he shows no mercy to what is under him?
God made all the creatures and gave them our love and our fear,
To give sign, we and they are His children, one family here.
(Robert Browning, Author & Poet)
It is just like man’s vanity and impertinence
to call an animal dumb
because it is dumb to his dull perceptions.
(Mark Twain, Great American Author)
“Compassion for animals is intimately connected
with goodness of character…
godlike sympathy grows and thrives
and spreads far beyond
the teachings of churches and schools,
where too often the mean, blinding,
loveless doctrine is taught
that animals have no rights
that we are bound to respect,
and were only made for man,
to be petted, spoiled, slaughtered or enslaved.
(John Muir, Naturalist)
The assumption that animals are without rights
and the illusion that our treatment of them
has no moral significance
is a positively outrageous example
of Western crudity and barbarity.
Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar
is as valuable to the child as it is to the caterpillar.
“If man is not to stifle his human feelings,
he must practice kindness towards animals…“
(Immanuel Kant, Philosopher)
“If having a soul means being able to feel love
and loyalty and gratitude,
then animals are better off than a lot of humans.”
(James Herriot, Vet and Author)
Our treatment of animals is important
to our own internal state.
If we are to expand our horizons,
to grow to understand what the relatedness
of each and every thing means,
then our love and appreciation of all life is essential.
Our respect and reverence for all living things
will be reflected in our own living.”
(Bill Schul, Author)
The question is not, “Can they reason?”
nor, “Can they talk?”
but rather, “Can they suffer?”
(Jeremy Bentham, Philosopher)
Every particle of factual evidence supports
the factual contention that the higher
mammalian vertebrates experience pain
sensations at least as acute as our own.
(Richard Serjeant, author,’The Spectrum of Pain‘)
Pain is pain, whether it be inflicted on man or on beast;
and the creature who suffers it, whether man or beast,
being sensible to the misery of it, whilst it lasts, suffers evil…
(Dr. Humphrey Primatt, Priest)
Very little of the great cruelty
shown by men can really be attributed to cruel instinct.
Most of it comes from thoughtlessness or inherited habit.
The roots of cruelty, therefore,
are not so much strong as widespread.
But the time must come when inhumanity protected by custom
and thoughtlessness will succumb
before humanity championed by thought.
Let us work that this time may come.
(Albert Schweitzer, Thinker)
We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty
with which we treat the animals.
Animals suffer as much as we do.
True humanity does not allow us
to impose such sufferings on them.
It is our duty to make the whole world recognize it.
Until we extend our circle of compassion
to all living things, humanity will not find peace.
(Albert Schweitzer, Thinker)
“Most people have forgotten
how to live with living creatures,
with living systems and that, in turn,
is the reason why man,
whenever he comes into contact with nature,
threatens to kill the natural system
in which and from which he lives.”
(Konrad Lorenz, Naturalist)
“I could not have slept tonight if I had left
that helpless little creature to perish on the ground.”
(His answer to some friends who were annoyed
that he had delayed them
by returning a fledgling to the safety of its nest.)
(Abraham Lincoln, US President)
“The worst sin towards our fellow creatures
is not to hate them,
but to be indifferent to them.
That’s the essence of inhumanity.”
(George Bernard Shaw)
“Anyone who has accustomed himself
to regard the life of any living creature as worthless
is in danger of arriving also at the idea
of worthless human lives.”