Conversation with my sister, Ingrid…

I got a comment from my sister, Ingrid to my last “Animal” post:

Ingrid

There is a definitive line drawn between animal lovers (ie. pet owners who value their pets) and animal right activists who assume that animals carry the same set of emotions and feelings that people do and should therefore be treated equally.

I have two poodles. I love them to death, I feed them treats, and take excellent care of them, but they are not my child. They do not get deferential treatment when the choice is the child need new whatever or the dogs are low on dog food.

My biggest issue with animal rights organizations is that they feel animals deserve the same rights as humans. They do not. This is why they can so carelessly describe human rights issues and animal rights issues as being the same.

While I love my “butt butts” and treat them like members of the family they are not equal members. They are the expendable members. The first to go if money gets too tight for their care. That would break my heart, but it is true.

I agree with Byrdparker in that there is a hierarchy and there is nothing wrong with following the natural order of things, we should just do it naturally without artificial growth hormones and antibiotics.

Animals are not human. Dogs do have feelings and emotions, but they are not the same as our feelings and emotions. We should care about the earth’s lesser creatures, but not to the extent that we overshadow the natural order that makes humankind the top of the food chain. We have too many human atrocities that overshadow the ones inflicted on animals. Our time and effort are much better spent creating a better world for all humankind first then we can worry about the abuse of animals.

And my retort:

Ingrid, I hear what you’re saying but vehemently disagree with you.

Nobody that I know of says, nor do I say: “animals carry the same set of emotions and feelings that people do and should therefore be treated equally.” Animals may or may not have the same or they may have a completely different set of emotions/feelings than people. And I don’t know what treating animals “equally” would look like. But I do know that we treat animals abysmally, horribly, and the main reason that we do so is because we believe that we are so-called superior.

When the white man wanted to mistreat you, he first called you inferior, an animal, in order to justify not caring anything about you and what he did to you. When you say your animals are expendable, that is the same mentality of the captain on the slave ship, who knew, when things got rough, which piece of cargo was getting thrown overboard first.

I’m talking about the mentality, the brainwashing or conditioning that began long ago. Its been filtered, twisted, repackaged today, for ex-slave and ex-slave master alike. (One of the few things that the ex-slave and ex-slave master can agree on is their right to make animals their meal.  And to blind themselves to the exact nature of how animals are treated in our gluttonous name)

Most human beings are accorded “human” status today, meaning they are not officially considered subhuman. But you and I both know that people of color, black people, still carry the taint of their being owned, being sold, being branded, being transported, being caged like “beasts.” That could not have happened if man had not first declared himself superior, greater, better than the animals.  And given himself the right to abuse at will.

There is a hierarchy, by the way, because men decided that there would be hierarchy.   And they placed themselves at the top…just like men decided that there would be a ‘human’ hierarchy and women would be positioned beneath them.  Or when whites decided there would be a ‘colorized’ hierarchy and niggas would be beneath them. (I mean, “why should we be equal; whites are superior to us aren’t they?! I mean after all, they told us so!!!“) Straights over gays, religious over non-religious, its all a part of the same hypocrisy. And we have bought into the concept of hierarchy hook, line and stinker.

Animals are not exactly like humans, but humans are animals. We are more alike than different. And if you truly look at the nature of so-called human atrocities, their root is in the human atrocities we have visited on animals. And first, in our brains, the divisions we’ve created between ourselves and each other. And animals.

It would make sense to me to deal with the divisions, break down the false divisions between animal US and animal THEM, that, rather than reinforce and solidify them. Perhaps that could help us break down the divisions between human beings.

If you truly want to end human atrocities, perhaps destroying the concept of hierarchy in all of its forms would be a good starting point.

16 Responses to “Conversation with my sister, Ingrid…”

  1. I commented on the last post, before I realized you addressed my comment here. This is why I love your blog by the way. It forces me to looks at my position and think.

    I understand what you are saying, and in an utopian world I would agree with your point. My issue is this. We have all seen PETA and to a certain extent the ASPCA vilify anyone who abuses animals. Who would disagree? a puppy missing an eye, a cow in obvious pain from torturous slaughter practices, cats with the mange and the overwhelming number of pets put to death due to over population. Whose heart would not go out. They are innocent and suffer their fate due to our carelessness.

    What worries me is that some of the very same people who would have you believe that animals rights and human rights are inter changeable will continue to look the other way at the atrocities in Darfur while crying about the Mountain Gorilla in the Congo. There is a disparity that says that somehow because the animal is subject to us we owe it a special form of protection that we are willing to afford those who are subjugated in our own phylum.

    Yes the slave master treated us as chattel, animals,caged beasts… The difference between us and the cow and donkey is that we were not that animal.

    As I said before I am an animal lover. I am that person who nursed her sick puppy to health and went to work looking like it was my child I had stayed up all night with instead of my dog. But, I will be honest in saying that my pets are just that…pets. And while a cow being slaughtered turns my stomach it does not break my heart more than a child being raped by an invading army, A father being unmanned and murder in front of his family, or a mother submitted to degradation while her son is forced to watch. Those things are infinitely more worthy of my time. Maybe it is a sense of superiority. I never looked at it like that. Maybe I too am brainwashed. But, my first concern is the atrocities inflicted on those in my phylum then I’ll worry the animals.

    I understand your point about the divisions but it seems to me that before you can look outside of your particular group you must sweep around your own back porch. How can you expect humankind to treat animals well if we cannot recognize enough commonality in ourselves to treat each other well?

  2. And this is why I love this blog, Ingrid, when I can have a “reasoned” conversation with someone. Thank you for that.

    Let me just say although I’ve said it lately, if you had asked me seven months ago if I’d have said to you what I’m saying now – not hardly. The change has been happening slowly but over the last few months I have become more open. More precisely, I have become more open to being open.

    This blog began as a means to maintain my sanity in a racist town, Portland, OR, in a racist county, the USA. I wasn’t trying to get into anything else too tough. But there was always a little crack where I’d let a little information I was hearing in: the 9/11 attacks and government complicity, veganism, sexism and patriarchy. But I wasn’t moving too far out of my comfort zone.

    Some things conspired that allowed me to take a closer look at food and issues related to health, disease, healthcare. Opening up a little more brought a bonanza of new information and new perspective. Its like the jazz musician who listens to rock, classical, hip hop: he begins to incorporate what he’s hearing. But if you don’t try to hear, what new is there to incorporate?

    My first concern has been people and I’m sure will continue to be. HOWEVER, all I can tell you is the more open I have become, the easier it is to feel more – feel more compassion for living things, feel more connection between things that I previously saw no connection between. We are trained to wear blinders, trained to not see, trained to be callous to the suffering of animals, to see their suffering and death as inherently less important.

    I totally get you on the way Peta and other activist types DON’T make the connections between themselves and other humans of color. That shit is totally problematic; but that’s the flip side of what I’m trying to convey to my peeps. They call it KFC instead of Kentucky Fried Chicken for a reason, just like they call it the “Department of Defense” now, instead of what it used to be called, “The War Department.” The CIA is “Central Intelligence” not spying. Spying is what other people do. This is the tricknology they put down.

    Its a process of spiritual, moral unconsciousness and death by euphemism. They use words to kill you, kill the feeling in you, the empathy in you. I remember reading an article about a black kid killed in DC. The way it was written was like, “Another anonymous nigga was found in a dump” three line pro forma recitation. I noticed myself reading it and not caring. “Just another nigga…” That was disturbing and not my true nature. With animals, there wasn’t even the pretense of caring. So what?! Hell, it was funny to watch animals get hurt.

    I was watching Animal Planet with my daughter a couple of weeks ago, one of these shows where animals are preying on each other and every time one of these fish or lizards are birds or gazelles got caught and chomped on – I turned away. Now, does that make me a punk, a wimp, or more or less human? I rather like feeling that their pain is my pain. And I think that being opened up more always aids creativity – whether it be in art or activism.

  3. And PS: Someone knowingly, willfully produces and maintains our state of clinical numbness and division. The profits from keeping us divided are astronomical. Unity between all of us little people and living things? Why that scares the devil out of these devils at the top of the food chain.

  4. i don’t want to do a knee jerk reactionary comment- i intend to go back and read the original post also- but i am going to comment that yes, indeed we need to respect animals and they do indeed have rights. i understand the slant of the post was geared towards differentiating between activist groups and real life- any of those types of groups- whether peta or clinton for president- tend to be focused and narrow. if you look at the bigger picture as a ‘normal’ human being, i don’t think that you can differentiate between human beings and other life forms. we are all interconnected. studying dolphins or primates or even the sea slugs and ant colonies- those animals communicate with each other and have bonds and relationships with each other that rival that of humans. sometimes better- they bond for life in most cases- and rarely cheat 😉 just a lame attempt at humor. my point being- i agree- we are all animals and because we build skyscrapers doesn’t make us better than other life forms. my cats would not be expendable members of my household or i wouldn’t have rescued them in the first place. they depend on me in much the same way any other dependent member of my household does- my mother not children. they feel and communicate with me and we share food and living space. the fact that they don’t look like me is meaningless.

    i hope you don’t mind but this has given me food for thought for a post at the peace tree. thank you.

  5. Hey Bet, I don’t mind you doing what you need to do so go for it!

  6. […] the free slave is an especial favorite of mine because he puts out real thinking posts. i can’t do that consistently- and i really admire someone who can. i have some back reading over there to do- as i have been offline- but the latest post is a follow up to a previous one written about whether or not animals should have basic rights. so, of course that got me thinking about all of the other reading i have done about buddhism- and how buddhists believe that other living beings have basic rights that we need to honor. maxjulian makes the point: […]

  7. And Here I am again, broadening my horizon. I am with you. We may very well be in different places on the same road because I feel you with eh euphemisms and the way we are fed propaganda instead of truth. You are absolutely correct about the spin that is put on things to numb our minds and make us less aware.

    I was just telling my mother that there are two things I cannot watch on TV. Gore and people degrading themselves for money. I get physically ill and feel bad when I see murder or as you said the viciousness of animals stalking prey in the wild. I also get embarrassed for people who SHOULD be embarrassed and don’t know it (i.e. any reality show on VH1, BET or MTV). So no, I don’t think that makes you a punk, but more empathetic and compassionate.

    I heard once that as we reconcile what we eat to who we are as a person we we will want our food provided with a certain level of integrity. Once we realize the brutality that brought that fillet to our plate we will be less likely to be appetized by it.

    I am not a vegan. I have recently taken to purchasing only organic produce and dairy products. My reasoning is I have become more aware of what I put in my body and the effects it has on my health. I would love to become vegetarian, but I cannot lie about how much I like chicken , fish, steak and lamb.

    I really do feel where you are coming from and I believe that if we all would take a moment and look at our world we will become more aware and more sensitive to certain things. I’m not where you are yet, but I will keep reading and maybe one day we can have this conversation over a veggie burger (I prefer portabello mushrooms myself) 😉

    Thanks for the excellent conversation!

  8. Good for you, Ingrid, that you are going organic. I can’t stand the taste of stiff, sprayed lettuce and tasteless, hard tomatoes. I feel spoiled eating delicious, healthy, real food and I love it. And ain’t nothin wrong with a few mushrooms in the wok. (I just bought one. YEAH!!)

  9. i would like to know , how you know if what you are eating is organic? The world is a fucked up place , labels are man think/ speak / made , i believe nothing they say ! hell everyday we are poisioning ourselves , for we never really truly give thanks to the earth and the heavens . We just do and are .

    I don’t cringe when i see a lion eating a wildebeast , know i cringe because he is being taped. The natural order of things , is a circle . death begets life and life begets death . It is the natural order of us being .

    also buddhism , is different depending upon which culture . chinese buddhism , believes in being vegan .

    and that is not even true phillosphy , read below …

    “Once, a rich and influential general by the name of Siha (meaning ‘Lion’) went to visit the Buddha. Siha had been a famous lay supporter of the Jain monks but he was so impressed and inspired by the Teachings he heard from the Buddha that he took refuge in the Triple Gem (i.e. he became a Buddhist). General Siha then invited the Buddha, together with the large number of monks accompanying Him, to a meal at his house in the city the following morning. In preparation for the meal, Siha told one of his servants to buy some meat from the market for the feast. When the Jain monks heard of their erstwhile patron’s conversion to Buddhism and the meal that he was preparing for the Buddha and the monks, they were somewhat peeved:

    “Now at the time many Niganthas (Jain monks), waving their arms, were moaning from carriage road to carriage road, from cross road to cross road in the city: ‘Today a fat beast, killed by Siha the general, is made into a meal for the recluse Gotama (the Buddha), the recluse Gotama makes use of this meat knowing that it was killed on purpose for him, that the deed was done for his sake’…”

    Siha was making the ethical distinction between buying meat already prepared for sale and ordering a certain animal to be killed, a distinction which is not obvious to many westerners but which recurs throughout the Buddha’s own teachings. Then, to clarify the position on meat eating to the monks, the Buddha said:

    “Monks, I allow you fish and meat that are quite pure in three respects: if they are not seen, heard or suspected to have been killed on purpose for a monk. But, you should not knowingly make use of meat killed on purpose for you.”

    You have to live your life and do you , but investigate , see the reality understand the truth and the meaning of it . Sun Tzu and Musashi , are my favorite books , because of the duality in their perspectives . Both of these principles I try to live by daily …

  10. Byrd: I’ve been eating organic veggies for the last eight to ten years so my taste buds know the difference pretty well. As for other products that are allegedly organic, got to go by the company, know who owns the company, whether its local or part of a conglomerate or not.

    One difference between us and non-human animals – perhaps – is that we have the capacity to see what our actions are doing to the environment. We can see where our actions began and what they have wrought now. Not that animals need this capacity because as far as I know, non-human animal behavior does not threaten to destroy the lifecycle.

    There may be a circle, but because of our arrogance and technology, we have closed the circle on many species – species that would be here if not for our egregious, unbalanced, callous behavior. Those absent animals and our destroying them may likely lead to our destruction because of the role they are no longer able to play. (the massive deadzones in oceans around the earth should create serious alarm bells for enlightened folks)

    I think I understand the distinction you were drawing about market kill versus kill specifically for an individual. The industrialization of food and the commercialization of everything will chief among things human animals will have to answer for. And I can’t wait.

  11. Just doing a check back and i noticed the question from byrd about being able really know its organic. Free is absolutely right, it tastes different. It also looks different. You can immediately tell the difference between organic cucumbers and those grown with chemicals. I don’t even eat cucumbers out of season now because we don’t have a whole foods where I live and you can only get fresh cucs during the summer months. The same with eggs and milk. The taste is undeniably different.

  12. I’m a little late to the conversation, but thought I’d weigh in, nevertheless.

    You said: “But I do know that we treat animals abysmally, horribly, and the main reason that we do so is because we believe that we are so-called superior.

    I agree about the “abysmal” treatment, and whatever can be done to curb that, I would encourage.

    I would go one step further and say that We (as humans) Are Not Only One, we’re connected to All Things Living.

    Yet, because of the contrivance of a hierarchy within the animal kingdom, where man is seen as superior to other animals, and that that justified his mistreatment of other humans, seems to stretch your point a bit.

    Why stop with animals? Why not all animate life? Is an oak less majestic because it lacks legs, a head, and a torso? Or a pine? Or a carrot?

    Now, I revere all life, as do you. And will, most of the time, gently remove a cricket, and a spider from my home, but will use whatever method is handy to stop an invasion of flies and ants.

    Does this make me less humane?

    You said: “But you and I both know that people of color, black people, still carry the taint of their being owned, being sold, being branded, being transported, being caged like “beasts.” That could not have happened if man had not first declared himself superior, greater, better than the animals. And given himself the right to abuse at will.”

    I agree with your take about the hierarchy that perpetuates a “better than” mindset among humans, where blacks are sent to the back of bus, and to the bottom of the barrel.

    What I’m not clear about is your position that it would have been otherwise, had we seen All animals (including man) as one and the same.

    Are we no longer allowed to eat animals, although we may one day decide to treat them more humanely?

    Can we say that allowing the eating of animals ever be considered humane behavior?

    In that case, would it be right and proper to stop the lion from eating the gazelle, or the wolf the sheep?

    The hierarchy has not been so arbitrary drawn. The strong in the animal kingdom (a kingdom that we belong to as well) has always preyed on the weak.

    And prehistoric man (our ancestor), no less, gave little thought to where he stood in the hierarchy, since he was not only the hunter, but the hunted.

    Biblically, the line was drawn with this statement from Matthew, Chapter 10:

    “29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
    30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
    31 [[[Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.]]]>/i>”

    Yet, your expressed concern here, (and I thank you for broaching the subject and giving me an opportunity to sound off), is addressed in some future age, when all of Nature rise above its “nature,” and we are graced with this idyllic scene from Isaiah Chapter 11:

    “6 [[[The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.]]]
    7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
    8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den.
    9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”

    Were we humans to give up meat at this stage in our evolution would not end the carnage that we see in the animal world.

    What is needed is the ushering in of the New Age, as described above, (a spiritual evolution) where “the lion shall eat straw like the ox.”

    You have obviously made a commitment to that Age, and that is to be acknowledged and championed, but it will take more than a change of habit to bring it about–it will require a “renewing of the mind.”

    Namaste

  13. beautiful! i love the blog!

    it wasn’t just “white” people saying they were going to have more power, however. the spanish had cannons, guns, swords, horses, ships, literacy, a greedy spirit (more GOLD!), resistance to disease…

    what did the native americans have? bows and arrows?

    guns, germs, and steel. that’s the answer!

    if the american indians had bigger guns, it’d be a different world.

    when the male lion tries to assert himself on a pride, it’s similar. the winner of the competition will kill the loser’s offspring.

    what a world we live in, right?

    maybe we can bring about some changes with our ability to reason.

    very thought provoking post!

  14. Hello TFS

    hope all is well this saturday evening !
    thefreeslave Says:

    Most of these food companies , are multilayered as a the rockerfeller family holdings.. I think it is hard to really know who owns what . Everything of what we know of as routine existence / sustinence in this civilised world is a lie . We cannot be sure what is the truth , is really ! At one time oil was sold as a health elixir , and cocaine was a main ingredient of coca cola.

    In Regards to us being different , does it really matter. An animal has to know that when the pickings are starting to get slim , they just move to a more lucious habitat. Like them we are the same in essence. Maybe we have to perish for what will be and what will come . I can’t question the nature of things which are . One thing humans do is overcomplicate and dramaticize everything instead of just being …. I learned this concept when I read black elk .

    Why do we feel we must own and control ? If truth is what we seek , then we must understand at what point the complication sets in … I vote for Man’s ego or hubris .

  15. ^^^^^ oh i cut out your quotes , so ignore where is saids the free slave saids… sorry

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