I've killed fleas and mosquitoes, and it had nothing to do with the animal's cuteness, or its complexity. I see it as a manner of self defense because they were sucking my blood and leaving me covered in huge itchy welts. Oh, and technically I've wiped out a colony of whip worms, but again, they were feeding off my dog and making her sick. I chose my dog over the worms.
With spiders it depends. I'm severely arachnophobic. If you hear me scream like a little a girl and run from the bathroom to crawl on top of the couch you can assume I saw a spider. Though it's usually screaming and running more than killing. I let them be unless they get too close. Of course if it's a Brown Recluse, or something else I know is poisonous then I'll kill it. I don't want me or my pets getting bit by something that would make us people sick, or possibly kill my cat.
Where I find your statements to be inconsistent begins here.
This is my discrepancy: you kill fleas and mosquitoes for breaching your space and preying on you as food. Aren't they just trying to survive? Aren't you natural prey since humans, as animals, contain blood they feed on?
And your dog. You claim humans aren't so superior, but through breaking the nature of the wild dog over the course of thousands of years, going against its very nature and forcing it into an unnatural habitat to serve us as both companion and utility (through hunting, herding, etc.) have we domesticated canines and not only made it possible for you to own one (and "own" isn't exactly a sign of equality), but also to kill the natural species that prey upon it in order to keep your dog alive for your benefit. The wild dog has no desire to be confined to the spaces a human tells it to be, to eat the food a human designates it to eat, or to obey human commands. The wild dog has no desire to be your pet, but alas -- what other animal takes other animals and essentially forces them against their nature purely for companionship? Couldn't you possibly say that it's kind of a selfish human behavior?
Don't get me wrong, I understand the love for a pet, I've owned a few over the years, and I get that some people consider them "like family", but if you had to choose between a little girl (or boy, I guess) and a dog drowning in a river, which are you going after? Assuming you choose the human like I expect you probably would, why is that?
And a spider -- you said "unless it gets close", you let it live. Once it gets close enough, your irrational fear has you killing what is a very useful part of the ecosystem for no apparent reason. The spider is not posing you any threat, in fact, it is akin to the foxes in that it is killing other pests below it while it takes up residency in your house. How is this different from senselessly killing foxes like you claim they're doing? How is your case different from that one?
So no, you can't dismiss everything I say by calling me a hypocrite. If it doesn't pose a threat to my health and well being, then I let it be. A fox getting into my garbage doesn't pose a threat. It makes a mess and can be annoying, but a garbage lid would fix that.
A garbage lid doesn't prevent a sizable enough animal from knocking it over and digging through it anyway. I've seen my cats knock over a trashcan five times their size and root through it. Digging through garbage cans can also spread sickness due to the things that may be contained in it, as well as the decay and mold that forms within. It can attract other pests and animals into your territory, thus making it an even bigger problem. Animals can become attached to an area like stray cats and dogs...they start lingering around, they make it their home, and pretty soon, you have them trying to get into your house and...well...attacking your children. It doesn't even have to go so far as to be a fox going into someone's home -- strays are just as capable of biting people, especially if a particular place where they commonly get their food has been marked as 'their' territory and a human strays near it or the animal feels threatened.
I guess one attitude I don't really understand is that you essentially say "leave it alone if it's not doing anything to hurt you", but then when at least one fox attacks two small children
, you immediately pin blame on parents of the victims and that it's completely unjust to cull any foxes -- while also saying that you'll kill spiders out of your own fear, whether or not there's any actual immediate danger to you. I see a very big problem with this, as you seem to be presenting a double standard for others than yourself.
Sure, we've developed language and learned how to build things, but the foxes can't help not having a certain type of vocal chords or hands they can hold stuff with. If you're not the type to believe in the god and grand design, then you can say we just got lucky to have evolved the way we did.
Even if you gave foxes thumbs and vocal cords, you're kind of missing that whole part where they are not self-aware, have no capacity for language or logical reasoning, and are driven purely by instinct, to name a few. The issue a lot of humans have is that they delegate human traits onto non-human beings -- but only the ones that are convenient. If you're going to make another animal on an equal level as human beings, then it should be able to live by human standards -- unless humans suddenly want to de-evolve and live by theirs, which I think would have an equally-disastrous outcome.
And also, your comparison isn't entirely accurate...if you believe in evolution, it's not luck and it never has been. It's always been "survival of the fittest" -- those species that can adapt and overcome will carry on and continue to survive. Because man effectively has dominated the earth (for all intents and purposes, obviously we aren't in control of every aspect), that would suggest that we, as a species, are fittest. If you want to play the religion aspect, I think it's in Genesis somewhere that God made mankind the master of nature. Either way, it doesn't really give any credit to luck or chance being a part of it.
But really, if what you're asking is "what separates man from other animals", then the answer is this:
We have an ability to care about species even when they attack our own -- the superiority of human beings isn't necessarily an egotistical status; imagine if bears were superior, or lions, or any other predator that could effectively tear our limbs off. Do you think they would pause for a moment and consider that humans can't help themselves and need to be protected? That maybe they should've watched their cubs better so we wouldn't be sniffing around? Absolutely not. Because no other animal has the same ability to reason and look ahead and overcome basic instinct in favor of rational thought. Humans have the ability to predict outcomes and change their behavior accordingly.
We have one HUGE advantage over all other creations, and that is, as was mentioned, self-awareness. We have concepts of self, we have the ability to think of the hypothetical, the abstract, to reflect on our actions, to try and predict future events and prepare accordingly, to place ourselves in another position and consider something another way. We have developed so far that we can even go against
nature in that we can nurture other
species, even if they are inherently a threat to our safety if we encounter them in the wild, through captivity, rehabilitation, and nature reserves.
Because humans are superior, it means we also have an inherent responsibility towards those who are 'lower' than us -- which I think is at the very crux of this argument. We are responsible for what we have dominion over, which is why I can agree that if it is proven by a biologist
that it would be more harmful to cull multiple foxes rather than just one, then it should not be done because it would be senseless and irresponsible. However, if a biologist
says that it will not do any harm in the long-run and will help control the population and/or prevent an occurrence like this...Well, are you going to say you know better than a biologist?