On September 21st, 1983 my husband and I watched and cried as our newborn twin sons died. Their deaths were unexpected and difficult to live through. Yet we survived. With the love and support of family and many friends, we were able to bear the several years it took to feel whole again.
Our babies were born with renal agenesis. For reasons unknown, their kidneys never formed. Although this condition can be detected before birth, I am thankful that we did not know. At that point in my life I would have chosen to carry the pregnancy to term. Going through the difficulties of having twins is hard enough. But the knowledge that my babies would die soon after their lifelines to me were cut would have made that pregnancy almost unbearable.
The experience of grief forces one into long hours of contemplation. It opens one’s eyes to the realities of the world. Often it is the first time one becomes aware that horrors don’t always happen to other people. Rather, they are a continuous part of everyday life. When I came to the conclusion that life is not always fair, my priorities were given careful analysis and readjusted.
We live in a world where absolutes cannot exist. For one thing, they don’t fit in a society with such a diversity of religions, cultures, experiences, and value systems as ours has.
Further, absolutes imply perfection, and ours is an imperfect world, where suffering, even by the innocent, is commonplace. So we must adjust to situations less than what we consider perfect.
Several decades ago, schoolchildren were taught that the difference between animals and humans was that humans used tools, and animals did not. It seemed reasonable. But since then, scientists have observed many different animals using tools. Not only monkeys and the great apes, but also smaller, what we consider to be less intelligent creatures. Even some species of birds use long sticks to poke into holes, waiting while ants crawl onto it. They then withdraw the rod and quickly devour the insects. The right size and shape twig is thus fashioned into a very useful tool for manipulating their environment.
Suddenly homo sapiens needed another distinction if they were to maintain such a lofty position within creation. The next explanation offered was that only people could understand their own mortality. Indeed, we were told that only humans had souls.
Since the notion of a soul is a spiritual concept and has little, if anything to do with science, the fact that we humans even pretend that we can possibly dismiss other species as “soul-less” is the height of arrogance.
It is reminiscent of the days when whites owned black slaves. Although some felt compassion for their “property”, they nonetheless had the power to do with them as they pleased. This was easily justified because of the belief that black people were sub-human, and that God couldn’t possibly hold the owners to account for having slaves of African descent. After all, they didn’t have souls…
The word ethics has been tossed around lately, as one of the buzzwords of the last few years. It easily rolls off the tongue, is simple to spell, and is a must-use when speaking about business.
An ethic is a philosophy or system of morals, and is as open to individual interpretation as is each of us. So the understanding that a person, company or business has ethics simply means that each has decided upon a set of rules to live by, and subsequently abides by it. Usually, but not necessarily, they are the rules that the majority of one’s society agrees with and tries to follow.
Today’s consumer has more choices than it ever has. Businesses that provide product and services enter and exit the market on a continually rotating basis. Those that manage to stay in business for any length of time have found a balance between standing up for what they believe, and treating the customer as a treasured guest. Adopting both of these attitudes is an integral part of that business’ ethics.
Corporations have been known to mention that being ethical is good business. In fact, this is an oxymoron, for if ethics are put into place because of the bottom line, then it follows that they would be dropped if they do not add up to company profits. Therefore, there is no morality involved here. Only if followed when inconvenient, or even hazardous, can a set of standards truly be called ethics.
And herein lies the dilemma for horse photographers.
Any industry that uses animals or people to its advantage is inherently suspect of the practice of abuse. The equine industry is far from exempt. Money, a very real energy in our society, is used to find ways to justify actions that otherwise could not be in existence.