“Humans are animals. We are equal to our four-legged friends,” a friend of mine posted on a social networking site the other day. This isn’t a direct quote, but the gist is correct. It was in a set of ideas to improve the planet.
I responded that, scientifically, I could not argue the first point in the statement. Humans are animals. He, of course, had meant it in the more metaphorical sense, I’m sure. At least it was a small point of agreement.
I had more trouble with the second part of the statement. I could not agree that humans were equal to animals. Don’t get me wrong – I love animals. I own a cat. I go to National Parks to see the wildlife. I would never intentionally hurt an animal and I would try to avoid accidently harming one as well. But if I had to make the choice in a life threatening situation – do I save a human or do I save an animal – I would save the human every time.
On Wednesday night, as I was driving to my class, I had an experience that reinforced my feelings in the matter. The road I travel, while a state route, is nonetheless a two-lane, winding road. As I drove along at 40 mph (speed limit: 35 mph), there was one car behind me. It was perhaps two car lengths back.
Suddenly another vehicle appeared behind that car. It wasn’t totally surprising since the road curves and has numerous driveways from which another car could have entered the roadway. However, the second car began tailgating the first, flashing his headlights. What on earth was his problem?
Before I had time to finish the thought, the second car began passing the first in a zone marked with double solid lines. No passing in either direction! When I noticed that in my rear-view mirror, I immediately looked ahead. Sure enough, as luck would have it, a car was coming toward us!
The passing vehicle swerved into the space between my car and the one that had been behind me. There was just enough space for him. He began flashing his headlights again as the car heading in the opposite direction passed by. What is his problem? It had become my problem.
The thought occurred to me in that brief, split-second kind of way, that there was a veterinary college up ahead, where there was an animal emergency room. No, I thought, no one could be that careless because of a sick animal. The car behind me could not wait longer and passed me, too, in the no passing zone. It was a big SUV of some type.
We approached the vet school and the SUV signalled a turn into the emergency room driveway. Damn, my intuition had been right! It didn’t get in right away, though, since there was a car from the opposite direction who had made the turn just a few seconds earlier. The SUV began flashing his lights like crazy at the car who had turned in just ahead of him.
I marveled at the sheer hubris (a very human quality) and stupidity the driver of the SUV had shown. He had gotten to the driveway perhaps 4-5 seconds before I passed by. But at what risk???
In the space of about a quarter mile, the driver had endangered the health and lives of him/her self, whoever else may have been in the SUV, myself, and the occupants of three other cars – not to mention the animal in the SUV!! I could picture the carnage. To what gain? 4-5 seconds.
I recognize that seconds can make a difference in a dire situation. But that is where the valuation of life comes in. Do we risk num erous human lives for one animal?
I would not . . . even if the animal were my own.