At the changing of the year, Pietermaritzburg residents had to endure what seemed to me to be the mother of all firework excesses. It is not clear why this occurred when the RAS, in a commendable reaction to public opinion, decided two years ago to cancel the Royal Show fireworks display, and Guy Fawkes and Diwali celebrations this year seemed to be more restrained. Clearly, however, the behaviour of these revellers showed no regard for the wellbeing of animals and small children who were terrified by the explosions. And yet, the moral and compassionate human will also recognise that it is not the environmental implications that should form the starting point for new behaviours towards animals, but rather that it is fundamentally wrong to inflict pain and suffering on them — an inevitable consequence of treating animals as commercial resources destined for human consumption. With a respect for other forms of life comes an increased respect and concern for other human beings. We cannot fully have the latter without the former.