There may be numerous differences that distinguish humans from the other species, but Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, says there is one important connection that ties us together. Humans and animals are not equals, he says, but we are equals in our suffering.
“A lot of people through the years have tried to distinguish humans from animals,” Pacelle says in the above clip from his upcoming “SuperSoul Sunday” interview. “And there are distinguishing attributes. I mean, look at all that we’ve created ― look at architecture and poetry and all of the mechanical things that we can do. We are distinct. But I don’t think that anyone can argue with this: [Animals] are our equals in our capacity to suffer. They feel.”
While the argument has been made that some animals do not have the mental capacity to live outside the present moment, Pacelle argues that this does not lessen their emotions. “If they do just live in the moment, then that makes their moment so important to them,” he says.
He also makes a point about equal rights. “And you know, frankly, we don’t also apportion more rights to people who are smarter or have more ability in something. We say that there’s a fundamental humanity in us all. And I think we’re just trying to extend the notion of community –- that these animals live on this beautiful planet and they have lives that matter to them. That their suffering counts.”
Wayne Pacelle’s appearance on “SuperSoul Sunday” airs Sunday, August 21, at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. ET on OWN.