Thursday, August 30, 2012

Corruption...

Is an evocative word...usually of not so pleasant things. A politician taking bribes, decay, contamination....these are all meanings given by dictionaries (source, source).

In a book titled "What Money Can't Buy", author Michael J. Sandel points out that we often associate corruption with ill-gotten gains. He then notes that the word also means, when referring to a good or a social practice, degrading or treating something (or someone) to a lower mode of valuation than is appropriate to it. (p.34). His book is full of examples where "market values" have come into vogue as a way of looking at things and as a way of allocating 'resources'. Proponents of this way of looking at virtually everything argue that there's nothing wrong with such a view and indeed this is an efficient and fair and neutral way of operating in the world.

It seems that there is a serious and disturbing 'unintended consequence' of using the "market" as an allocator of goods and services and that is that there is a persistent and ubiquitous tendency of the "market" way of allocation and market-oriented way of thinking to displace nonmarket ways of thinking and allocating.

For me, the most potent and stimulating point in this book is that we have slowly and imperceptibly tumped over from a society with a "market economy" to a market society. In my lifetime I have seen this and been disturbed by this but until reading this book had never quite put it into clarifying and useful terms. Sandel says this has happened without serious and persistent public debate and one of the main thrusts of the book is that a public debate about this needs to occur.

Those interested can read reviews of this book here and here.

Simply put...ethical veganism is, in one way of looking at it, as a call to change how we value living animal beings that are not human animal beings. They have been relegated to a calculus or "valuation method" that "corrupts" their essence, their 'worth' and that must be changed. Justice, morality, compassion and "common sense" all demand and require a change. Our fellow animals have been "corrupted", lowered to a way of seeing and thinking and feeling about them that is below the truth of them, ....and ethical veganism is a way of "repairing the world"...at least in this aspect.

For this to happen, I believe, is going to require a lot more than just according our fellow living beings the respect and freedom that is theirs. A lot more. Because unless and until we "get our heads and hearts straight" about our planet, about our environment, about our place in those and about how we live in this world our fellow animals are not going to be safe from us. We are dangerous...not only to our planet and the other life thereon...but also to ourselves. How could we have practiced slavery on ourselves for as long as we have without being, maybe, somehow deranged?

Look at how seemingly difficult living with justice (fairness, equality) appears to be for human animals. Look at the length of time, thousands and thousands of years, "market values" dominated our thinking about human animals. It is astonishing (to me anyway) to realize that human slavery was everyday practice (and disgustingly enough, still is, albeit not "legally") for most of the recorded history of our species. From what I could find, it seems that the last country to legally abolish slavery did so only 31 years ago (1981). And even then, they didn't 'criminalize' it until 2007. Put it another way...it was only 5 years ago (2007) that it finally became a criminal offense in all human societies to "own" another human animal being. Think of how many thousands of years there have been human animal societies.

It is amazing to me....that the injustice of and unfairness of one human animal "owning" another human animal's life has only been prohibited by law with criminal penalties, everywhere on planet Earth, for only 5 years. Appalling. (And I know full well these despicable practices still exist and still occur even though universally illegal)  In truth, whatever pit we've been crawling out of, either we are so slow as to be enshrined in Ripley's Believe It or Not, or the pit had a depth which is maybe immeasurable. If this sort of stuff doesn't make you shake your head...well...wow....just wow.

Check out Sandel's book from your local library. It isn't the most fun read and sometimes is tedious and really doesn't have any answers, only questions...but ...it will likely bring some clarity and some "aha" moments for you to ponder.

It certainly brought to me a new way of thinking about "corruption". In some instances a "market" can be a useful tool. We've become intoxicated however, and have been for a long time, with this powerful but trivial tool. We're like the person with a hammer...everything looks like a nail. Well, the truth is, when you use a "market" to value...you almost invariably "corrupt" that which you are valuing....and your thinking....and yourself....and other beings....and planet Earth.

Look around...there aren't many ills that can be identified as having human origin that can't be traced back...in some degree or another to a corruption by market valuing.










Friday, August 24, 2012

Eye candy...

Few beings are more appealing when they are babies than are bunnies. For proof...take a look:

"China" and sibling.
These babies were born in a local animal shelter and came to Heartland when only 2 days old. The photo was taken when they were about 4 weeks old. Their appeal is a double-edged thing because while baby bunnies look so warm and huggy and beautiful...they grow up. And for many bunnies the growing up results in behaviors that cause them to be avoided and neglected and abandoned and sometimes abused. But...they are, like all babies, beautiful indeed.

Here's a photo of Merlin.

"Merlin"
Merlin is not a baby. He came to us as a grown-up and has been at Heartland for a while. He's not real impressed with us humans. He flinches and cringes when approached and while this is not common in the rabbits that are rescued...neither is it unknown. The likelihood is high that Merlin has been abused...probably he has been hit or struck or hurt or repeatedly terrified in some way by human animals. I'm pleased to report that he is slowly beginning to accept touches and petting and handling without cringing or flinching...but it will be a long time before he is able to trust that an approaching human means him no harm. He has a fairly exuberant personality when not suppressed by humans being near him and it is fun to watch him being his true bunny self when he is allowed to free range in the fenced area near the warrens.

Rescue means not only providing a home for a living being...it also means coping with and attempting to remedy (insofar as possible) the effects of neglect and abuse. It means trying to make up for harms done by others. It means trying to provide opportunities for those rescued to taste some of the good things of life....those good things that are the birthright of every being living on our planet.

"China" and sibling again.
  If you are going to live with a member of another species...it is totally your responsibility to care for them, to meet their needs and to love them and to never never neglect or harm them. That's a big big responsibility and a demanding and daily and sometimes difficult and sometimes expensive undertaking.

Those baby bunnies in the photos will grow and grow and change and change and no one can predict what their adult personality will be like. They will go through adolescence, they will sometimes be grumpy, they may not want to be touched or bothered. They may chew on something they shouldn't...they may fight with another bunny...and on and on.

In other words a bunny is not a toy, nor is any living being. Bunnies aren't stuffed animals, many many bunnies don't care for being picked up once they aren't babies (even many babies protest being lifted off of the ground). The money hungry businesses and individuals that have the blind harmful audacity to "sell" animals care about profit and about the animal only insofar as profit is enhanced by animal. They don't tell the "customer" about bunny behavior....they rely on the "eye candy" appeal of a baby bunny or baby cat or baby dog or baby ferret or baby rat. Living beings are not objects to be bought and sold. Period.

Here's a good measure of the depth of comprehension and understanding an individual or a business has. If they sell or profit from selling animals or any "product" from animals then you are dealing with someone or something who has some serious comprehension, compassion and moral shortcomings. You are dealing with a harmer....with a destroyer...with a contributor to the misery and suffering that exists on planet Earth. Don't support them...we've way too much unnecessary suffering and harm already.

If you want to live with and befriend a member of another species...adopt a homeless Earthling. There are plenty of them. But...educate yourself thoroughly first. Responsible rescuers will be glad and eager to help you learn about the bunny or cat or dog you want to adopt. Responsible rescuers will support you and assist you for as long as you need it. Heartland Rabbit Rescue insists on bringing your new family member to your home...because we want to know where our residents are living....we want to know who they are living with...we want to know they will be well cared for...we want to know they (and you) will be happy with one another. That is the way of not increasing misery, that is the way of doing no harm, that is the way of contributing to joyous life...not sadness.

Sometimes people who want to adopt get put off by our insistence in knowing about them, about their home. It is likely they are thinking "it's just an animal, why is this information your business?". Well, we're all "just an animal" and we're all equally important and worthy of care and respect. That bunny they may want to adopt has been failed by humans before...or they wouldn't be with us...so we're going to do everything we can to avoid another failure. Merlin and China and all the other bunnies deserve that. And that's what Heartland does. We're there for the bunnies...not the humans. Once a bunny comes to Heartland...they are forever a Heartland bunny...if circumstances cause a bunny to have to leave their adopted home...we take the bunny back. We are their "forever" home. Because each of us deserves a forever home...

Any rescue organization that behaves in these ways is an organization that is doing their part to repair the world. We human animals are responsible for a horrid amount of "breaking of the world"...much repair needs doing. Responsible and caring rescue organizations and facilities are doing their part to repair that which has been broken.

And...obviously....living as an ethical vegan is absolutely necessary to contribute to that repairing of the world.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Jojo resurgent...

I recently wrote about Jojo, a bunny rescued by Heartland Rabbit Rescue. He was the victim of neglect (and/or abuse) and had suffered severe urine scald which caused the hair on his stomach, back legs, 'nethers' and his tail to fall out...as well as causing lesions on his skin. In just two weeks he recovered wonderfully, as you can see, and he is well on his way to being fully haired again.
Jojo, after and before.
He is a rather exuberant bunny and it is a joy to see him playing and running. He is developing his jumping skills and has become almost impossible to contain in any enclosure without a fairly sturdy top on it. He easily sails over the 30 inch wire we use for outdoor playpens and he makes it look effortless. He's a real hoot.

By the way, I used the term "hair" deliberately...many us human animals do not realize that "fur" and "hair" are interchangeable terms that refer to exactly the same thing. So, Jojo happily has an increasing amount of fur or hair on his lower body and I have a decreasing amount of fur or hair on top of my head. Who says there's no balance in the universe?

Please live the animal friendly, planet friendly and health friendly way...as an ethical vegan. Thank you.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The 'ease' of destruction...

The cocoon of the "consumer" culture that occupies the dominant position in these here United States (and in European culture in general) offers, nay enforces, an obliviousness that is sometimes difficult to appreciate. Difficult partially because we are encouraged and urged and pressured to be oblivious to our obliviousness. And while blindness may hide awareness of monsters from us, it also eases our way toward behaving monstrously.

The "average" American is a monster from the viewpoint of our fellow animals. Each American, with the exception of the woefully few practicing ethical veganism, participates in...directly or by proxy...in the confinement and suffering and killing of billions of animals each year. Every day you or some that you know cause terror and pain and death to chickens and cows and pigs and sheep and and and. Every day.

And most are able to do this without hearing one scream or groan or cry or moan from their victims. Most are able to do this without seeing blood, without smelling fear or feces, without observing the despair or horror or terror. How nice...for the "average" American...for those enslaved and/or dying...not so "nice".

I've written previously about obliviousness (and here and here) but not about how effortlessly most are led into being destroyers of life, into being terrorists to our fellow earthlings . Look around, look at your friends, at your family members...look at the schoolchildren, at the teacher, at the clerk in the store, at the newscaster, at the celebrity. See the blood on their hands, around their mouths...nope....all hidden....all sanitized away. No trail of bloody corpses behind their backs, no blood dripping knife is seen. Zip zoop...all gone. Thanks to the 'miracle' of the ease of destruction. The baby cows are torn from their mothers...for that ice cream "treat"...does the child eating that treat hear the cries of the baby? The moans and bellows of the mother, her thrashing and pacing? Does the child eating the treat watch and smell and hear the baby being killed? Nope, zip zoop...all gone, all hidden...now easily denied and ignored.

We have succeeded in making ourselves (most of us, anyway) into pseudo-innocent monsters. Ready to be outraged and angered should anyone accuse us of being harmers of our fellow animals. With our lying, deliberate ignorance many are ready to be offended and disturbed should anyone point out the truth of our destructiveness. After all, that's one of the benefits of the ease of destruction.

Apologies to P. F. Sloan for the variance on the title of his song "Eve of Destruction". Just as the song laments our disbelief that we are on the eve of destruction...we are truly and deeply disposed toward denying and ignoring our "ease of destruction".

And my apologies to my fellow animals for this denial and for their misery and death and for my own years of blindness. I will never be able to make up for my own participation in this debacle...but I participate no more and will spend the rest of my days helping with the rescuing of my fellow animals  and advocating for them.

For those who try to avoid reality by conning themselves with the notion that those who are about to die do not know what is happening...I offer this photo. Anyone that doesn't grasp that the rabbit in the picture knows what her/his fate is...well.
You are most assuredly attempting to console yourself with an untruth.

The bunny knows, just as the cow knows, the turkey knows, the pig knows...the only ones who don't are the oblivious human animals who support these atrocities.

There's a quote that floats around on the internet which is maybe fitting here. Supposedly voiced by Leonardo da Vinci at some time or another.

We all are encouraged to not see, make sure you let yourself see when you are shown...and once you see...opt out of the ease of destruction. Please begin now if you haven't already...to live an ethical vegan lifestyle...stop participating in this nightmare.