Respect should be a prerequisite on any occasion, especially in relationships. This may seem obvious, in fact, any conscientious person would claim to consider this presupposition in everyday life. We recognize its importance and that is why we perceive it as an inalienable right and demand it when it is not recognized.
What is the meaning of this common term?
“A feeling that leads to recognizing the rights, dignity, dignity and personality of someone, and therefore to refrain from any manifestation that could offend them”.
Source Vocabulary Treccani
Recognizing the rights, dignity and personality of others are fundamental and indispensable aspects in order to claim to respect the other. This means accepting, without judgments and prejudices, the diversities that distinguish us, since in them the uniqueness of each being is expressed. Everyone, in representing a unique and irreproducible singularity, has the right to exist.
At this point we can ask ourselves whether respecting individuality can also affect other living beings besides us humans; if we restrict the field to the animals closest and most common to us, we can ask ourselves what they 'don't have' to ignore their undoubted diversity and singularity.
Recent studies confirm that for many animal species living is not just an automatic and unconscious response dictated by instinct, but is the result of intellectual faculties, emotional states and sensations. And in this regard I would like to propose this interesting statement:
“We know that animals are individuals and not 'things' that exist for our convenience. Animals are subjective beings who have feelings and thoughts and deserve respect and consideration. They have no right to subdue or dominate them for our selfish profit - to make our lives better by making theirs worse ”.
Marc Bekoff (American biologist, ethologist and lecturer) “The emotional life of animals” p.135
Unfortunately, however, the path towards the recognition of animal subjectivity is still long, arduous and full of obstacles due to cultural heritage of old memory, lack of knowledge, economic interests, and much more. All these obstacles mean that too often the right to exist is denied to non-human animals. A denial due to the convenience of being able to equate them with objects in order to obtain personal or collective benefits.
We focus the vision on our daily life and our relationships; in all conscience can we claim to respect the other? What happens when the other is our pet?
When we ask our dog to dance to the music, or to participate in competitions running wildly; when we transform horses into living palettes for the amusement of little humans, or into competition vehicles; when we participate in cat shows with our glazed and perfumed cat displaying it as a trophy, in all these cases and in many others are we sure to respect their nature, subjectivity and animal dignity?
We certainly do not believe we are hurting them, but in reality if we pause to reflect we will realize that we are not looking for their good but ours.
We are negotiating lives that do not belong to us; by treating them as objects and not as subjects, we transfer our pleasures and entertainment onto them, convinced that they belong to them. This can happen in total good faith, for superficiality or lack of knowledge, and this can be partially remedied by documenting or relying on people who respect animal dignity.
But it is of fundamental importance to start modifying our perception of the other, expanding the horizons of the mind and heart to make room for a new vision.
A vision in which the concept of respect is at the height of any consideration, because respecting the other means respecting oneself.