Seeing Yourself as Good Might Make You a Terrible Person
Source Free From Harm
This post by Charles Horn, author of Meat Logic: Why Do We Eat Animals?, is part of an ongoing series called Most Common Justifications for Eating Animals, in which we seek to provide answers and resources to better address common defenses of animal product consumption.
“So you’re saying if I eat a piece of chicken, I’m a bad person?”
Many of us have probably heard this question or a variation of it before in discussions on the morality of eating and exploiting animals. It’s fascinating how a discussion on a societal injustice can become so quickly refocused into the feeling of being judged as a person in totality. Humans seem to have a desperate need to maintain a view of themselves as good people.
Ironically, needing to see ourselves as good people can make us act in terrible ways.
An article in Hazlitt and a related article in The Guardian a few months back discuss the idea that believing that life is fair can make us terrible people. Research beginning in the 1960s has shown that if we feel powerless to alleviate an injustice, we have a tendency to convince ourselves that the victims deserve their fate. We do this, apparently, in order to maintain a belief that the world is a fair and just place. People with a strong belief in a just world, for example, are more likely to blame sexual assault victims, feel contempt for the underprivileged, and oppose affirmative action. Holocaust memorials can even lead to an increase in anti-semitism, as people become slightly more likely to believe that the only possible explanation for such an atrocity is that the victims must have brought it upon themselves.
In the nonhuman realm, we can see this effect in how people often downplay the intelligence and emotions of the animals they eat, as if it somehow would make these animals deserving of what we do to them.
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good is now about how we perceive ourselves
it is about how we treat and perceive others.
do we see our animal friends as objects
or do we see them as our brothers.
treat all others as you wish
to be treated..
or you are no more than
Karen Lyons Kalmenson