Humans are built on morals they learn throughout their lifespan
Humans are built on morals they learn throughout their lifespan. People have the mind capability of being considerate of what they are doing and what is going on around them. Considerate, by definition, is having a careful awareness or view of someone’s opinion or circumstance, etc. Consideration enables people the capacity to ignore or acknowledge something and to decide if they want to do something about it. People can be considerate of other people, animals, plants, environment, death, etc. To be considerate is wired into people, but not all realize it. In order for someone to be considerate, they have to be educated about the circumstance. There are many people who are making the effort to help people consider what is going on under their noses. Some works where consideration can be seen are David Foster Wallace’s “Consider the Lobster”, Jessica Mitford’s “The Story of Service”, and Hal Herzog’s “Animals Like Us”. These authors are forcing readers to see their moral view and push the readers to consider their own view. An important thing to keep in mind when being considerate, is to be open minded.
In Wallace’s and Herzog’s essays, their common goal is to make the reader consider the treatment of animals. To some people, it is wrong to eat animals because like us, animals would prefer not to be eaten. These individuals usually refer to themselves as vegetarians or vegans. Wallace considers this by putting himself in the place of a lobster in his essay, “Consider the Lobster”. Wallace points out that it is not just the fact that the lobster prefers not to be eaten that makes eating them wrong, but how people prepare and cook them. After lobsters are captured, their claws are bounded, and they are put into cramped tanks that do not allow them much movement (Wallace 463). In addition to this, the lobsters are cooked alive! Although it is unknown if the lobster can feel pain, it seems like they know they are dying. Wallace demonstrates this by stating that “the lobster… behaves very much as you or I would behave if we were plunged into boiling water.” (467). Not many people think about how badly these animals are treated. This could be because they do not perceive the lobster as an animal, but as a “giant sea insect” (Wallace 460). Our perception of animals changes the way we treat them. Herzog highlights this fact in his essay, “Animals Like Us”. He brings up a woman named Judith who considered herself a vegetarian, even though she ate fish (Herzog 242). In other words, Judith is a pescatarian. A fish is an animal, but in Judith’s eyes it was not. Perhaps it was the appearance of the fish, or the fact people do not believe fish are as important compared to other animals because fish have a lower level of cognizance. There was another instance of a man, Jim Thompson, who had the job of dispatching chicks after experiments. He never thought what he was doing was cruel until he read a magazine on animals’ rights. After that he never ate meat again. It is not that it is wrong to eat meat, but it is how the animals are prepared. People eat meat for the pleasure of it, like with the lobster. Not for the nutrients, but for the taste. For a lot of animals, including the lobster, people perceive them as pleasure foods. Wallace and Herzog both want us to consider the ethics of our treatment towards animals as food and other means. If people improve the treatment of animals before the animals are cooked, would it be ethically acceptable to eat them? Before people can be considerate of the way animals are treated, they need to be knowledgeable of maltreatment.
In order to be considerate, people have to be aware of the conflict in the first place. Wallace attempts to make people consider something they usually avoid. Not many people confront how the lobster is treated and cooked. It is easier to turn the other cheek, and not acknowledge what is occurring right under their noses. It may not be because people choose to, but that they are naive. Like Wallace, Mitford educates the reader on something that is not common knowledge in her essay, “The Story of Service”. Mitford describes what happens to a person’s body when it is sent to a funeral home. The dead body is prepared by draining all the blood and replaced with embalming fluid, which is toxic to the environment, to preserve the body up until the burial service (Mitford 46). The body is dismantled and reconstructed to make the body look natural, which is the goal of the embalmer, to make the body look like it is sleeping rather than dead (Mitford 49). The process is not only gruesome, but a way for people to avoid death. Even during the funeral service, the funeral director has to avoid using any terminology relating to death (Mitford 52). Mitford wants the reader to consider death because it is something people cannot avoid, and that needs to be acknowledged. Most are not educated on how lobster is cooked or of the embalming process. In fact, the embalming process is so common that the embalmer no longer asks the family if they want it done (Mitford 43). So, a person needs to be acquainted with a fact before they can consider it.
Often, when a person is mainly one-sided, the other view is not seen. It may be easy to see and fix one ethic, but people need to consider that by fixing one ethic, another may be disturbed. In Mitford’s essay, it is obvious that she is against the embalming and funeral process of the United States. From Mitford’s view, readers might assume that it would be best to do away with the funeral service. That would not necessarily be the best idea. Although I do not want to be embalmed when I die, I do not completely agree with Mitford. The funeral service is about more than just the embalming process; having an open casket and seeing a loved one at peace is important to help the grieving move on, not for avoiding death. If the deceased were in rough condition or injured, a person would often choose not to see their loved one in such a shape, so the embalmer returns the deceased to a state of normalcy. Death is also a huge industry in the United States, with no residents living farther than two hours away from a funeral director and embalmer (Mitford 43). If the United States were to do away with that industry, there would be up to tens of thousands of people without a job and without money to support themselves and their families. Similarly, Wallace is against the Maine Lobster Festival, but it provides a huge income for the state of Maine and the community (Wallace 459). The Maine lobster festival is also a tradition for many families. Getting rid of these two industries could lead to an up-rise because people would be angry and upset. If two sides of an argument can consider each other’s aspects, it could allow some compromise to arise. A compromise with the funeral service could be for the embalmer to inform the family on the embalming process and offer them a choice. People could still have an open casket without the whole embalming process. These essays represent that it is important, when reading a view that is one sided, to consider the other side.
It is very seldom that people think in black and white, because of consideration, people often fall within a gray area. A great representation of this is in Herzog’s essay, “Animals Like Us”, he has mixed feelings about what moral obligations people owe to animals. Herzog recalls a rumor that went around about how he was feeding kittens to his boa. He was horrified to find that people would even think that he would do that. For some reason, people put cats lives above rats. There are millions of unwanted cats that are put down each year, so would it not make more sense to feed those cats, who are going to be killed, to the boa, instead of healthy rats? As Herzog contemplates this question he recognizes that “the logical part of his brain may have concluded that there was not much difference, the emotional part of him was not buying the argument at all,” (245). Herzog’s thought process represents a very human thing. He knows it would make more sense to use dying cats over healthy mice, but for some reason cats hold higher importance and value in his mind. Humans put themselves above animals and then value some animals above others. I have similar thoughts to Herzog when he supports this by saying he is against test toxicity of products on animals, but he is willing to kill as many mice needed to find a cure for cancer (Herzog 247). This circumstance lies within the gray area or as Herzog would put it, the troubled middle. This troubled middle exists because of people’s mental capacity that puts us on a higher moral pedestal than other animals. The gray area is almost an excuse for people to be a little selfish. I, like most people, justify killing mice to find the cure for cancer because it would save a lot of lives. This is possible, but what if it were cats, dogs, or people being tested on, more people would be against testing for a cure. For reasons, I do not know how to explain, I would be more against it. It might be the fact that cats and dogs are often seen as companions, more so than mice. There is a line that is often drawn when it comes to testing on another human being. When being considerate, there are going to be a lot of people in the troubled middle for a variety of instances, that includes the Maine Lobster Festival, and the funeral process.
Consideration is a complicated part of the human mental compacity. It is what allows people to have different ethics and morals. An important necessity of consideration is that people need to be informed on the information in order to consider it. Mitford and Wallace inform the reader on the topic that they want to be considered. Sometimes, a person will only give you one side of the argument, in which it is your obligation to hear the other. Herzog explains that there is usually a troubled middle involving consideration. It is consideration that can allow people to avoid certain things and be selfish, but it also can allow compromise and kindness. Consideration is an important part of humans and what makes us dangerous because there is so much that can be done or not be done with it.