BWar is hard on animals too. Animal People newspaper and other mainstream news sources wrote about Marjan, the famous elderly lion, blinded by a grenade in 1995, who died in the Afghanistan zoo. Only in Animal People do we also learn about a little black bear whose nose “was painfully infected by Taliban soldiers who tortured him with a pointed stick.” I’m sure all my brothers and sisters in the Afghan zoo and other zoos around the world are suffering merely because they are cooped up in unnatural surroundings. But the violence and neglect caused by humans and their persistent fighting amongst themselves only makes life worse for all living things on the planet.

There is a World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and its director John Walsh, who go around the world trying to help the animals in Afghanistan and other countries at war. Animal People reports that the best use of WPSA in that country was that they paid off back wages of the zoo employees so they would stay on the job.

Poverty and instability caused by war or unrest in a country results in animals starving, getting diseases, having their habitat destroyed and being killed. Watch the news for the pictures of Afghan life. There are donkeys in the background – thin, hungry, tired – and suffering as much as the people there. Poor people are also more desperate and end up hunting more animals for food or poaching endangered elephants to sell the ivory in their tusks.

The worst part is when animals are forced into being agents of war. Look at the anti-Taliban forces riding into battle on horses. Did those creatures agree to part of an absurd battle against tanks and machine guns and bombs? Dolphins are often put to work for the military. Dogs are trained to work in law enforcement and the military. Chimps are used as substitutes for humans in military and space exercises that may be too dangerous for people. A person’s life is saved. The chimp’s life is irrelevant.

Now the U.S. Navy admits that its underwater sonar experiments are killing whales. The high-pitched sounds cause fatal trauma to marine mammals. Although the Navy has agreed to try to prevent further injuries to whales during peacetime, during a war there will be no restrictions on the use of the deadly sonar.

I shudder to think about the new announcements that the military may be using nuclear weapons in our upcoming wars. Even if the tests of weapons are done underground, underwater or on “uninhabited” islands somewhere, I bet there are some living beings of the non-human variety that will be fatally exposed to radiation or totally annihilated. But, what should we expect from a species who makes up public-relations words like “collateral damage” when talking about the death of other humans. Then writers go on in newspaper columns about why it is O.K. to kill innocent people in times of war – because, presumably, it is not our fault they live in that godforsaken country that needs to be destroyed. Why would I expect there to be any more respect for the life of an animal?

I might not even be here, nor would any of the pot-bellied pig species, because of the Vietnam War. We were peacefully living by rivers in Vietnam – rooting around, making babies, bathing in the water, just being pigs. Then came the war, including napalm, Agent Orange and environmental devastation. My ancestors nearly became extinct.

Whenever a bomb struck a little river valley where a family of pot-bellies lived with their clan, and a pig was thrown into the air, landing on his side, wounded and bleeding and all alone, did anyone shout out: “Black Hog Down!”? Did they radio for immediate assistance? Was a mission put into place to save the hog’s life? Did a film company make millions on a movie documentary about the hog’s ordeal? Is he now revered as a hero?

As the story goes, a Canadian man found us and, to save our species, brought some pot-bellied pigs back with him to Canada. Granted, we were tropical boars and the weather must have been a little rough, but now we live on. It’s only right that the founders of the Columbus Free Press struggled diligently back in the 1970’s to end that horrible war and now I can repay them, doing my part by contributing this column every issue.