And yet, many human beings have deduced animals to be inferior. We project our standards based on our senses and experiences, and demand that these are the baselines of intelligence and sentience. It is a kind of prejudice to say that animals are inferior because they do not communicate in languages that we know, because the way they feel their emotions is different from ours, because the way they navigate the world is unfamiliar to us. And because of this discrimination, we end up using other beings as if they were mere things, and this is what has caused and is still causing grave environmental destruction.
Patanjali's Yoga Sutras chapter 4 verse 28 goes: Hanam esam klesavad uktam. In English, it means: The greatest obstacle to the practice is one's own prejudices based on one's own preferences. We are reminded that our prejudice does not do us any favors. What we can do, even if we are unable to experience what it is like to be other beings, is to tap into the gift of imagination endowed upon us. To use our imagination to feel as others feel, to be as others are. And then, we can look at those same differences, and instead of creating more separation and hierarchy and prejudice, we look at those differences with a sense of awe and wonder and curiosity. Through our imagination we can bridge the gap between self and others, and we can cultivate love and unconditional acceptance of others. And when we love all beings, we are bound to protect them; and when we protect all beings, we are bound to thrive all together. When we let go of our prejudice towards others, the first person that we free is ourselves.