An Essay by Sasa Begovic

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How do I Understand Animal Protection?

I wake up in the morning and get ready for school: school bag, jeans, make-up matched with my clothes and my mood (I believe in high-quality cosmetics, but how to achieve it - I hope that my lipstick was tested on a mouse, or rat, or some other disgusting rodent!). I put on some dead animal's "clothes" in two ways (one down, on my feet, and the other (coat) on my body). Okay, I admit, I don't have enough money to by a real fur coat yet, but as soon as I become rich and famous, I'll sure get myself a "tiger" or "Dalmatian" fur coat, because my slogan is: Fur is fur, no matter what others may say. On my way to school, I kick a few stinky cats (they were asking for it, they shouldn't get in my way when I'm in the bad mood) and step across the colony of ants. I can't wait for the break time, when I rush to the nearest fast-food restaurant and order king size burger. I enjoy the moments of my great victory over hunger. As for mad cow disease, nothing could be further from my mind.

After these words, animal lovers are probably chilled and appalled by my words as they read on, but don't worry, this caricatured "me" is just an example of the way people take animals for granted. They don't change or question their beliefs, because animals don't have a voice to raise it against such mistreatment.

Now, let's see the other side of a story: my name is Red, my mom is a cow, and my dad is a vet. I spend my entire life in artificially illuminated building, with no sun and no grass. I yearn for the blue sky as I see it through the high stable window while I chew un-tasty food that is said to be made out of my ancestors' bones. My days are all alike, nothing ever happens. But one day, everything changed forever: they took us out for the first time- my first look at the sky, my first breath of fresh air... It was wonderful! But, something was wrong: they lead us into muddy backyard, and then they took us through a door, one by one. Silenced shots were heard out of that room, and none of the cows came back...

Now, try to imagine a story that a lab rat could tell, or chimpanzee on which a lipstick was tested, or a rabbit to which the deodorant was sprayed in the eyes.

In Croatia, the laws concerning crimes against the environment are still in diapers, so for these issues we can't rely on our legal system. A concept that the environment should be an equal element of the legal system is quite new in the Western countries as well. Even though there are laws that protect endangered species and abused animals, there are also people who often mistreat delicate fauna of our beautiful Earth. You will recognize them by their statements such as: "Oh, come on! Endangered species? The only animals we need are the ones we eat, the others don't effect on our survival at all!" or "The only reason that domestic animals are bred is food production, who cares about vegetarianism!" These people also claim that it is better to test potentially harmful substances on the animals rather than people. Each of these statements is easily discredited in accordance with common beliefs: animals are our ancestors on this planet, and this only should be good enough reason to obtain them, if not privileged, then at least equal right as people. Animals are useful in many other ways, not just as food (for example: they ensure harmony in ecosystems). And concerning animal testing, if something is potentially harmful to people, it is harmful to the animals too, and until we find better ways of testing safety of such products, maybe we should simply stop using them at all.

One lay preacher, as written in daily newspapers Jutarnji list on October 24, gave her students a list of cosmetics producers they should boycott because, according to her sources, they finance a satanic sect. What we should do is to simultaneously look at the contents of our kitchens and bathrooms and at lists of animal friendly firms. We should also question ourselves and see do we really feel compassion for every ling thing. Are we really the kind of people we like to think we are?

by Sasa Begovic

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