Animal rights matter
fter living in Taichung for five years, the city has become my Taiwanese home. Even though I’m a foreigner and obviously not from Taiwan, I feel comfortable walking or riding my scooter around the city. One of the reasons why I love living in Taichung is because the area of Dakeng is so close. After a 40-minute scooter ride, anyone can be out of the city and surrounded by nature.
Recently, I enjoyed hiking the trails in the Dakeng area with friends. At 8 a.m. on a Saturday, my friends and I started hiking up trail No. 2. To my knowledge, it’s one of the most difficult and it’s certainly challenging. Some places are so steep it’s similar to climbing a ladder! Thankfully, the trail is wellequipped with ropes to help pull yourself up with. Sometimes along the 50-minute hike, I would look down and see the skyline of Taichung. As I got higher and higher up into the mountain, though, I could see less and less because of the heavy fog from the recent typhoon. While trekking up the mountain, it was also fun to check in with my friends and encourage them.
After finishing trail No. 2, my friends and I decided to continue by going down trail No. 1. Because I hadn’t been on this one before, it was new. On the way, my friends and I saw some geckos, lizards and mushrooms! We didn’t see any monkeys, though, probably because of the typhoon. In addition, the logs were wet, so we needed to be careful.
Even though my friends and I woke up early on a Saturday to head up to Dakeng before it got too hot, we were joined by many other fellow hikers in our quest. Some of them were walking down trail No. 2 while my friends and I were hiking up! Almost all of the hikers greeted my friends and me by saying, “Zhao.” And,
often times I responded with a “Jiao, jiao!” Very often, that encouragement was met with laughter and surprise that I know that word. I do hope the chuckles meant my Chinese was cute and the encouragement was unexpected.
While going down trail No. 1, many fellow hikers warned of the potential danger of the wet logs and said, “xiao shin.” Still, these exchanges between strangers form a community in that activity and at that time. That community is nice and comforting to be a part of, even if I don’t see the fellow hikers again.
Also, I’ve noticed that groups of friends often go hiking together. It’s a way to get to know each other, share experiences, and bond together. So, if Dakeng is in your area, whether Taiwanese or a foreigner, I encourage you to take advantage of its beauty and accept its challenge of hiking. It’s good for the mind, body and soul.
Living in Taiwan, I have always lamented the lack of animal rights; the constant reports of animal abuse repulse me. Although many pet owners treat their pets like family members, many pet-less people cannot fathom such a notion and treat animals like possessions, and not living things. I often try to explain to people that dogs and cats, like people, have emotions and feel pain. It honestly shocks me that many people don’t realize that pets are living creatures too.
Just recently, I read an article regarding the Taiwanese folk tradition of hanging dead cats on trees. This practice, although not as frequent today, is still being practiced. I completely understand that individuals who practice this tradition do it in good will — they believe it purges evil spirits from the cats and helps them be reincarnated. In my opinion, although people do it in goodwill, this practice is unsanitary and can spread illness. Dead animals, in my opinion, should either be buried or cremated.
Onto the topic of animal rights in general in Taiwan, I feel like the value of animal lives is often ignored. Taiwan, as we know, is a very liberal and open nation. However, regarding animal rights, Taiwanese, particularly the older generations, have not progressed with the times and have no intention to. This can be attributed to the Taiwanese tendency to focus on accomplishments and work, instead of thinking about seemingly trivial subjects like animal rights.
The government and the Ministry of Education need to educate the public that animal lives, like human lives, are extreme- ly valuable and that we, as humans, have to have empathy for other animals.
In my opinion, it is humankind’s responsibility to protect the very land we live in. Deforestation in Taiwan is also quite serious, with lots of illegal buildings being built on inappropriate lands. As a Cree Indian proverb says, “When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realize that one cannot eat money.” Nature and animals all over the world have been harmed because people’s greed for profit can never seem to be satisfied. It is this greed, coupled with ignorance, which causes Taiwanese people to disregard the suffering of animals. In our education, we need to pass down ideals that train the new generation to be empathetic, compassionate people who respect other lives.
Starting today, the new Resident Visa for Entrepreneurs is available for foreign nationals who wish to start a business in Taiwan. The new regulation is part of the government’s ongoing efforts to attract foreign talent to invest and start businesses in the country and position Taiwan as a hub for innovative entrepreneurship in the Asia-Pacific region. Applicants can check with the Investment Commission under the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) and fill in the required forms in accordance with the “Examination Directions of Entrepreneur Visa Qualification for Foreign Nationals” to check whether they meet the requirements for the new program.
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