As thinking beings we have always discussed amongst ourselves how we should interact with each other and the world around us. There is an old saying that my freedom ends where another person’s begins and most of our discussion surrounding ethics are all to do with how we should comport ourselves. It is an ideal of course and much is there in laws to serve purposes wholly other than ethical but we do have a fundamental dilemmas.
Life feeds on life.
Since it become impossible to live without something dying (and before macrobiotic specialists tell me you can I would remind them their houses have been built on the bodies of millions of insects and even the Jains have recognised breathing is dangerous to minute animals in the air) we can never live up to the ideal of living without killing. We can never live without depriving some other animal of a home or its life.
So the ideal is unachievable but balance is not. We don’t have to kill everything or stop thinking about what we kill and steal. We don’t have to lose sight of the importance of life and believe all other animals are insignificant. Ethical behaviour is about how we think. It demonstrates just how deep a hold we have on life as a shared experience.
If we have no hold on another’s life, we have not even begun to think.