John Stuart Mill has said that “every great movement must experience three stages: ridicule, discussion, adoption.” We find ourselves near the beginning of a fundamental revolution in the way humanity relates to the rest of the animal kingdom. The animal liberation movement is currently in a state of twilight between the first and second stages — those who champion the cause of animals face rampant ridicule and vehement opposition, but at the same time the need for a fundamental reassessment of our treatment of animals is becoming more widely recognized. For instance, Harvard and other respected universities have begun to offer courses in Animal Law. Philosophers can no longer get away with dismissing animals outright, for animals have entered the philosophical arena and won’t be leaving any time soon.
We are only just beginning the journey of comprehending the complexity and the depth that our fellow animals possess. The study of animals, and particularly of animal cognition and communication, contains a gold mine of potential for helping us to understand the world and ourselves. Is it not strange that we are searching so arduously for intelligent life in outer space when we have not yet come to recognize and understand the intelligence within the creatures with whom we share our planet? It is part of my life work to strive to breach the chasm of understanding between humans and other animals, so that I may connect with and learn to understand them. Perhaps learning more about our fellow creatures will help us to respect them and to acknowledge their right to exist alongside us in this glorious world.
The message that I carry, of vegetarianism and kinship with the animals, is the grail that I serve and that I bring unto the world. My life mission is to strive to understand myself, humanity and the rest of the animal kingdom, and I am resolved to bring about peace, harmony and justice between us. When at times I become overwhelmed by the enormity and apparent futility of this task, I need only recall the abundance of suffering in the world and I am filled once more with a seemingly infinite strength that allows me to continue to serve the grail.