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How to End Cruelty to Animals, People and Nature

How to end cruelty to people, animals and nature, and create a world without war and environmental destruction.  What is cruelty? It is any harmful action taken against another living entity that disregards its consciousness or awareness. In this essay, we’ll explore some of the levels of cruelty: how it happens, how it’s defined, and what we can do to help end cruelty and enhance compassion in the world. Cruelty exists in three distinct realms: cruelty against mankind, cruelty against animals,
and finally, cruelty against nature. Let’s start with cruelty against mankind, in which one individual may be cruel to another for a variety of reasons, usually relating to gaining personal control over resources (food, money, etc.) or other people. This concept of personal gain is an important factor in understanding human cruelty, since individuals are usually only cruel to others because they gain something from it. In fact, this is designed into our behavior and has been carried through our ancestry for hundreds of thousands of years. Picture this: two cavemen are sitting around a fire at the end of the day. One spent hours gathering berries, and the other has nothing. The caveman with nothing can attack the caveman with the berries, take his fruit, and be all the more successful for it, at least in terms of survival and control of resources. From an anthropological point of view, there is an incentive for deceit, theft, and even harming other individuals, as long as it results in some sort of personal gain. In fact, we see this across virtually all species, but especially in those that are most closely related to humans, such as primates.

Today, we see the very same thing happening when one nation attacks another nation in order to control its resources. Attacking a nation to take control of its oil supply is essentially the same as beating a caveman over the head and stealing his berries. It just goes to show how little we’ve actually advanced over the years. This brings us to a salient point: ending cruelty requires moving past our ancestral roots, and past the behaviors that are programmed into us because they once helped us succeed in an uncivilized world. Today we have to recognize that cruelty is not acceptable in the international community. It is not acceptable to attack and kill other human beings for any reason, and certainly not to take control of their resources in order to enrich ourselves.
Likewise, it is not acceptable to exploit poverty-wage labor in third-world countries in order to enrich corporations and their CEOs in developed nations. But this is no anti-trade rant: free trade is essential for lifting poor nations out of poverty, but only when combined with mechanisms that respect the sanctity of human life such as safe working conditions, living wages, and a system of recognizing private property ownership for the poor. Read “The Mystery of Capital” by Hernando DeSoto, which is among the most important economic books of the last 100 years, to learn the real reasons why free trade has failed to provide economic freedoms for underdeveloped nations (and what we can do to change that).