You Can’t Gift Justice, But You Can Restore It

The Rise for Animals Team, December 20, 2023

We love celebrating the rescues of other-than-human animals from human laboratories – from 4,000 Envigo beagles . . . to 10 Gottingen pigs . . . to two rabbits named Figaro and Donna . . . to one dog named Gryffin

Watching these survivors’ liberations and realizations of respect, equal consideration, safety, and love buoys our spirits and offers us discrete glimpses into the world as we wish it were.

Yet, while we celebrate the “gift” these individuals have been “given”, we find it especially important to recognize that justice is never a gift. 

Justice should be viewed as a right, one that has been recognized specifically within the context of scientific research. Indeed, the 1979 Belmont Report identifies “justice” as one of three guiding, inviolable principles and dictates that vulnerable groups may not be used as subjects” in human research.

Because the interests of other-than-humans are the same as those of humans in all ways that matter, the Report’s exclusion of other-than-human research is nothing more than a codification of anthropocentric speciesism – the discriminatory belief system upon which the entire animal experimentation industry is built. 

Fortunately, however, human denial of or blindness to an inherent right affects neither its existence nor attachment in any way. 

Justice should be viewed as an inherent right belonging to, at the very least, all sentient beings.

Such a view calls forward the realization of Dr. Albert Leffingwell’s 1916 prophecy that “[s]ome day the question of vivisection will be merged in the larger problem, the adjustment of man’s relations to animals on the basis of JUSTICE.”

Such a view means that, when victims of animal experimentation are rescued from their industrial captors, their right to justice is being restored – not gifted.

And, such a view explains why our movement – the animal rights movement – may be framed as a “moral crusade” bent on “correcting [] injustices” and demanding “justice, equality, fairness, and rights.”

And, though we Americans profess a “deep commitment” to “justice”, we lack compassion. 

Compassion” is a term, or a concept, often invoked but rarely honored. Fundamentally, compassion is “both a prosocial mindset and a proactive behaviour [sic] against suffering” – to be sure, “one of the most singular aspects of compassion is that the distress felt by empathising [sic] with the sufferer does not stop there but rather ‘implies a concern for the sufferer and hence a desire or wish to help them’….” 

It follows that compassion is a “key element for justice to flourish” – and that only once we manifest compassion can we manifest a true commitment to justice, that only once we embody compassion toward all sentient beings can justice be restored.  

With compassion comes justice, and with justice comes peace.

A compassionate, just, and peaceful world is what we at Rise seek to champion each day, including during the holiday season when calls for compassion and peace abound in human circles. So, this December, we ask that you join us in taking these calls to heart, in manifesting true compassion and, thereby, gifting restoring justice and championing peace. 

Together, we can “help[] all sentient beings, whatever the species, to reconstruct society as a place of altruism, nonviolence, and compassion, rather than a place of self-interest, competition, and moral indifference.” No gift receipt required.

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