I feel sad today. A photo I saw this morning is to blame. It’s the widely publicized photo of a wretched monkey, restrained and sent into space in a rocket by the country of Iran. All the media articles I’ve read talk about fears that Iran may now possess the technical know-how to fire missiles with nuclear weapons. There is no mention of the monkey. Is it a girl or boy? Does he/she have a name? What condition was she/he in on return? In the pre-launch photo, the monkey looks wretched, terrified, helpless. Why is there no mention of this? Are we really all so uncaring, so ruthless. I feel such disappointment and shame in the species homo sapiens right now. My species. If I shed a tear or two for the monkey will that make up for all the others who don’t care?
There is a movement called GAP – Great Ape Project – which seeks to grant basic rights to non-human primates. The basic rights are the right to life, liberty and prohibition of torture. In the words of Peter Singer from the Great Ape Debate:
Chimpanzees, bonobos, and gorillas have long-term relationships, not only between mothers and children, but also between unrelated apes. When a loved one dies, they grieve for a long time. They can solve complex puzzles that stump most two-year-old humans. They can learn hundreds of signs, and put them together in sentences that obey grammatical rules. They display a sense of justice, resenting others who do not reciprocate a favor.