The Dream of a Nation

Photo Credit: Life of Rai (Facebook)

Bob Kerridge has had a long and distinguished professional career in animal welfare, during which time he has been responsible for many creative and innovative initiatives that have enhanced to status and welfare of animals in New Zealand.

The Dream of A Nation

The universally acknowledged humanitarian, Mahatma Ghandi, whose given name translates to ‘great soul’, once had this to say about nationhood: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged on the way it treats its animals”.

As we embark on yet another new year it is an opportune time to ponder on those words and consider their meaning in the context of how we are progressing as a nation, and accordingly how we may eventually be judged by our deeds. Sadly I fear we do not fare well in that matter, and if we wish to strive towards true nationhood on those terms we have much work to do.

Consider conservation. We are big on conservation, and in principle that has considerable merit. But at what cost?

Conservation in New Zealand has generated a culture of selective killing. If it’s an introduced species to which we have taken a dislike, an animal we humans have declared to be a ‘pest’, or a species who for its own survival preys on other animals, our only solution seems to be to destroy it and call it ‘humane’ conservation. However there is nothing humane in taking the life of any sentient being, even when it is claimed to save another, no matter how one may attempt to justify it – it is, and always will be, murder, and accordingly absolutely immoral.

When we consider the weapons used to undertake this dubious and destructive activity we have a moral reason for concern. Trapping and shooting carry their own degree of animal pain and suffering, but heading the list of mass destruction has to be the use of toxins and poisons such as brodifacoum, PAPP and 1080 for the sheer unadulterated cruelty they inflict, with animals taking hours and even days to die in agony. The use of the latter has been correctly criticised by the SPCA for the untargeted and indiscriminate destruction it leaves in its wake on so many life forms.

The effect of desensitising death in this manner has a profound effect on our culture as a nation, and there are many examples where this manifests itself in our general behaviour.

New Zealand has an abysmal record of human abuse, not only to children but to also to each other, with domestic violence being a significant contributor, and much of this emanates from our total lack of respect for and of each other. The undeniable link between human and animal abuse, where one links directly to the other resulting in a violent outcome, must surely be a significant clue to the cause. That we have such scant regard for life, and resort to such methods to selectively kill en-masse those considered undesirable in our world, must surely leave an indelible scar on our souls.

An equally alarming trend is occurring with ‘conservation’ efforts now extending to persuading households to act as vigilantes in their own back yards to trap and dispose of undesirable animals who happen to wander there, whilst their children in sanctioned school programs are being taught that killing some animals who have done nothing to deserve bring killed, other than being who they are, is perfectly acceptable, and can even be competitive and fun.

With this barrage of pressures urging us to undertake these extreme measures against an ever increasing variety of animals, what chance do we, and they, have in fulfilling our dream of becoming an ideal nation together?

Perhaps it is time for those who are advocating this war-like behaviour, including DoC, Predator Free-2050 and Forest and Bird, to name a few, to consider the potential dangers of their obsessions, and what effect their rhetoric will have on us and our desires to realise Ghandi’s vision of a peaceful nation filled with respect, compassion, empathy and justice for all beings. It is a good vision, and as such the last word should undoubtedly be his:

“There is little that separates humans from other sentient beings. We all feel pain, we all feel joy. We all deeply crave to be alive and live freely, and we all share this planet together”.

Bob kerridge can be contacted on:

Mobile: 0274 959 449

About the author:

Bob Kerridge has had a long and distinguished professional career in animal welfare, during which time he has been responsible for many creative and innovative initiatives that have enhanced to status and welfare of animals in New Zealand.

During his tenure of 32 years with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals he assumed numerous roles, and was promoted to Officer of New Zealand Order of Merit for services to animal welfare and governance in the Queen’s Birthday honours in 2018.

He has recently established a Fellowship to recognise positive and harmonious solutions for animals, humans and the environment. He resides in Havelock North, Hawke’s Bay.