Growing up with non-human animals and having had the opportunity to make the emotional connection early in life and continue this development through experience and learning, there is no denying that non-human animals possess dynamic social structures, individual personality, and the same basic human capabilities of affection, nurturance, grief, aggression, fear, and pain.
With the abundance of available scientific documentation, conscious reasoning, and intuition, it is very easy to translate and relate these concepts to non-human animals that we have little or no contact with such as farm animals, wildlife, and marine life.
Although it is said that the only thing that separates human animals and non-human animals is intellect, non-human animals also have an intellect of their own, possess a purpose in life, and have an important function in the natural ecosystem.
Animal rights, the idea that non-human animals merit the same rights as human animals, is not a radical socio-political movement. Animal rights is an all-encompassing lifestyle that promotes equality among human animals and non-human animals.
If we absolutely need an animal rights theory to base our argument, here it is:
Animal rights is common sense based on compassion and kindness.
The question remains: How do we establish equality, open minds, share, and teach these basic principles of compassion, appreciation, respect, and peaceful coexistence among all the inhabitants of the earth?
Liz Marshall’s film, The Ghosts In Our Machine, documents the emotional journey of Animal Advocate and Photographer Jo-Anne McArthur and her ambitious project, We Animals, to photograph the predicament of non-human animals caused by humans.
Filled with stunning examples of McArthur’s photography, The Ghosts In Our Machine focuses on the biggest and most important concept of animal rights: the ability of the human animal to recognize and accept that all non-human animals are sentient beings.
McArthur’s photography is art as activism. Her gallery of images evokes an extremely powerful emotional connection for the masses by revealing the hidden suffering of animals as well as highlighting the joy of our relationship with our animal counterparts.
Throughout the film, McArthur is clearly burdened, emotionally traumatized, and consumed by her efforts to expose the worldwide corruption of the animal industry, create awareness, and build accessible sensitivity among the wider population.
Jo-Anne McArthur’s inner and outer struggle is identifiable and her photography reveals straightforward questions with far-reaching implications and answers.
If humans are to believe, behave, and live in a truly humane and compassionate manner toward non-human animals and the environment, we cannot violate human rights and demand the priority of non-human animals above humans.
To be embraced by all, the perception of animal rights must be an intelligent as well as emotional modification in our collective human mentality of economic success, beauty, and fulfillment without the arguments of superior human morality and ethics that divides movements, organizations, and individuals.
Animal rights is not the end of capitalism; animal rights is the re-invention of democracy, capitalism, science, and learning. Much more than a modification in the law, government, and politics, animal rights requires a dramatic transformation in human perspective, educational opportunity, and economic viability.
To abolish animal cruelty and exploitation, a shift from destructive living to constructive opportunities must take place in science, environmental protection, renewable energy, wildlife preservation and rehabilitation, companion animal sheltering and rescue, and farming utilizing the natural function of animals in the ecosystem.
Ultimately, change is our shared responsibility.
Visit Jo-anne McArthur’s We Animals website, follow We Animals on Facebook, and pre-order Jo-Anne McArthur's photojournalism collection We Animals.