Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Invisibling 101.

Someone posted this video on FaceBook with all the usual oohs and ahhs about cute baby humans and so on and so forth. Babies are cute...all babies, not just baby humans...but in this video there's more than just cuteness going on.
She's using her little book and she's singing a song many U.S. American children learn to sing when they are small. The song is titled Old MacDonald Had A Farm and a version of the simple repetitive lyrics can be found here. It might interest you to know that this little ditty has versions for multiple cultures and languages, Chinese and Italian and Danish and and (15 or 16 languages) so it is a multi-cultural children's song. (here's a link to the video in case it doesn't show up in your browser)

What's much more interesting (tragically) is that this one of the ways in which that ubiquitous shaper and arbiter of understanding and human consciousness...culture...goes about teaching small humans to look but not see.

This is a song about a death camp for Earthlings who don't happen to be human Earthlings. The version linked above references Chicken beings, Turkey beings, Cow beings and Dog beings...and one Human being (MacDonald). The only two beings in the song who are probably not destined to be killed at some point (and eaten) are the Dog Being (contingent on cultural practice) and the Human being. The others are surely victims destined for death at the hands of "Old MacDonald". The song doesn't mention this. Ownership of living beings is implied and simply presented as a given.

Contrast the learning going on in that video with the very different sort of happening with a small child that's present in the following video.

This little boy is making connections. He says he likes the animals "standing up" and he doesn't like them to die and he doesn't make invisible the fact that if we eat them they have to die. There are two nifty humans in the second video...any parent who tears up because her child expresses caring and concern for animals is...well...the little boy is delightful and he has a pretty snazzy mom (although I might want to have a conversation with her about what she puts on her child's plate). You might have to maximize the second video to full screen size if you need to read the English captioning. (here's a link to his video in case it doesn't show up in your browser)

The little girl is younger than the small boy...we don't know if in the future some conversation similar to that we see in the second video will occur in her life or not. Whether it does or doesn't...she's being presented with cultural invisibling via that song. And...she'll be presented with various other invisiblings over and over and over as she grows. Invisiblings about women, about men, about race, about mother Earth, about her sister/brother Earthlings and on and on.

She may sink into the mostly invisibled sea of participation in the onslaught of oppression and death and destruction toward other beings and herself and marginalized human animals and mother Earth that surrounds her and become oblivious to it all. If that's the case with her...we can imagine some scenario 20 years in the future where some vegan de-invisibles her complicity in horror and maybe she comprehends and begins to look and see or maybe she just gets angry at the "weird" vegan for upsetting her.

We don't know how life and consciousness will play out for either of these small children...but we do know the little girl is apparently being taught to be blind and to not see and the small boy is struggling (and succeeding) to see...to make connections and thereby drawing compassionate conclusions.

By the way, if you don't think adults have their own versions of Old MacDonald's Farm...think again...they're called commercials. Brief, attention catching, often cute and/or humorous invisiblings that subtly (or not so subtly) shape and direct our seeing (and not seeing).  Just as the song focuses on the happy and the fun (and invisibles the horror), so do commercials invisible that which they don't want you to comprehend and think about and see. One source estimates that U.S. Americans are exposed to an estimated 200 to 3,000 advertising messages per day. Every day. That's a lot of invisibling. Lots of "information" that distorts and omits and hides instead of enhancing comprehension. And that's just the commercials.

The next time you get perturbed over the seeming lack of intelligence and/or comprehension and/or wisdom exhibited by human animals...remember this...the U.S. culture, especially the commercial/business part of it, has little or no interest in intelligent and insightful comprehension of the world or the workings of the world or of the beings who live in that world. Nope. It does not.

In fact...if you want to get really really nervous take a moment and think about what elements or institutions or organizations there are in the culture that are devoted to and committed to increasing comprehension and compassion and insight and understanding and then compare how many of those there are to the number of elements or institutions or organizations there are which are devoted to some sort of invisibling and/or distorting and/or hiding. Let me know the counts you come up with...how many for the first group versus how many for the second group?

While you're doing that...please don't invisible our sister/brother Earthlings...live vegan.


Have Gone Vegan said...

Ah, commercials. Some of the ones here are just mind-bogglingly stupid, especially from the dairy industry. Animated cows singing and dancing while eating cheese. Cheese! Or there's one where the narrator wonders whether the featured cow is daydreaming of eating Greek yogurt. I mean, seriously? Besides being incredibly asinine, I find it galling that the writers of these commercials find it okay to represent them eating ingredients that they've had to suffer for to secrete. Of course commercials aren't meant to be factual, but still. And viewers aren't insulted by being treated as dimwitted idiots?

But the one that actually had me yelling at the TV every time I saw it (thankfully not for a while now), was the one where a supposed nutritionist is telling a chef how it's important for kids to be eating x number of portions of dairy products every day to be healthy. CALCIUM, I would yell, NOT dairy! Because this goes beyond distortion and is an outright lie. I even wondered if I could launch some kind of legal action -- that's how ticked off I would get!

Love the little wise boy in the second video. Let's hope that wisdom doesn't get squashed out of him. But at least he's inspiring now. :)

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting HGV. Yes, there is serious contempt shown toward the viewers of commercials. I wouldn't mind at all if some serious penalties were attached to untruths in "commercial speech" (which is a euphemism for lying).

I had an encounter with a couple of nutrition students not too long after going vegan. It was depressing and sort of scary...given they these folks are supposed to be sources of information about nutrition and the two I interact with were sources of industry propaganda and little else.

Yes, let's hope the kiddo can hang onto his wisdom...but it will be a battle since many elements in culture advocate in the opposite direction.

Cee Tiresias said...

Very thought provoking...thinking about how to teach my child compassion for all life and how that can/could be undermined with things that are "harmless."

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Cee Tiresias. Yes, we begin teaching our children to disconnect and to ignore from the get go. It's sadly endemic in this culture. Hooray for you for looking out for your child. (and thanks again for commenting)