An­i­mal rights mat­ter

The China Post - - LOCAL -

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.

But, what do you think? If you’ve fol­lowed this is­sue, why don’t you share some com­ments to be pub­lished in next week’s PrimeTalk? Send sub­mis­sions to com­mu­nity@chi­na­post.com. tw and in­clude your real name, na­tion­al­ity, con­tact num­ber, some photos and a pro­file. Spec­ify “Eye on Tai­wan” in the sub­ject line and en­sure your sub­mis­sion is be­tween 300 and 500 words. Writ­ers whose pieces are se­lected for pub­li­ca­tion will re­ceive one month’s free sub­scrip­tion to The China Post.

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