When I first saw the story about how Switzerland had passed legislation that detailed how fish and animals are to be treated, I questioned if there was much value in mentioning that they outlawed live bait and catch-and-release fishing, as well. The legislation even spells out how goldfish can be disposed of (no more burials at sea by flushing them down the toilet).

The law even requires dog owners to take classes on raising their canines (though I don’t believe they’ve yet seen fit to require parenting classes), and virtually any cosmetic procedure from cropping tails to ears is also now illegal.

Then, I ran across an article talking about the general trends in Europe regarding secularism, politics and the like, and how Europe is three to four decades ahead of us on many of these issues. Not to worry, however, the U.S. seems to be picking up speed in closing the divide, embracing more government intervention in the marketplace (socialism), and the like.

If animal welfare issues aren’t at the top of concerns that this industry must proactively deal with it, they need to be elevated to top priorities quickly. The whole concept that humans have a role as stewards over animals, but occupy a space in the hierarchy of creation different than them, is being erased.

As much as I consider myself an animal lover, I believe there’s a fundamental difference between animals and humans that many consider to be a relic of an outdated Judeo-Christian mindset. What’s more that viewpoint is quickly becoming regarded as the equivalent of racism and bigotry in the minds of many.

I used to believe that all one had to do was spend time with animals and people to not only understand their intrinsic worth but also their differences. I’ve never denied that both must have legal protection from our abuses.

However, I also believed that hosting civilians on our ranches and showing them our love and stewardship of the land and animals would win them over. And it’s worked wonderfully with those truly sincere and pragmatic in their approach to the environment.

But in some cases, particularly among the most radical elements of this movement, it’s just a difference in world views that can’t be reconciled. In those cases, we must advance our beliefs and values in the realm of public discourse so that they prevail against these other philosophies.

I believe many of the same dynamics exist relative to animal welfare, but it’s a far more different challenge. It’s also one that we’ve been ill equipped to engage in up to this point.