Friday, February 28, 2014

Innocence

Dictionary.com defines innocence:
1. the quality or state of being innocent; freedom from sin or moral wrong.
2. freedom from legal or specific wrong; guiltlessness: The prisoner proved his innocence.
3. simplicity; absence of guile or cunning; naiveté.
4. lack of knowledge or understanding.
5. harmlessness; innocuousness.
This is Darby.
Darby (5-6 months old...estimated)
She embodies a living example of innocence. She even wears a white coat. Someone dumped innocence at a drop box at an animal shelter. She was anywhere from 2 to 4 months old. She came to Heartland very very frightened. She was skittish and jumpy and scared. She ran away from humans when she could but if she was held and head-rubbed you could see that she was a baby who wanted to be comforted.

I'm writing about her because these past few days have seen a transformation. Darby has turned a corner and now instead of being dominated by fear and anxiety around human animals....she bubbles. She eagerly looks them in the face, she seeks touches, head-rubs...she runs toward humans instead of away from them. She especially likes having her shoulders gently massaged, if you touch her there she usually drops to the floor waiting for a rubbing.



She isn't crippled by terror now. There are few things (maybe no things) in this old world better than seeing a baby recover her smiles, her joy of living, her happy, her feeling that life is good.

She didn't have to recover her innocence, she never lost that. She didn't cause human animals to behave like they do...she didn't cause the predator animals, who stalk and kill her relatives for food, to act the way they do. She didn't cause her hair to be white, humans did, so they could better hurt her in laboratories and other places of terror and pain. But her white hair is accurate as an indicator of Darby's state of being...she is innocent.

Thanks for being who you are Darby, thanks for giving humans some trust again. Heartland Rabbit Rescue (and me) will do everything possible to make sure you never ever have any reason to distrust or fear human animals.

That's my hand in the second photo. Look at your hands. Do your hands represent the the destruction and disregard of innocence? Look at the hands of human beings the next time you're out around other people. If those human animals aren't living as vegans...you're looking at hands that destroy innocence, that terrorize and kill babies, that don't care about innocence. If hands told the truth of their doing with their color...the hands of a human being not living vegan would be stained red with blood. That's ugly.

If you don't want to have ugly hands, if you don't want to be someone who destroys innocence, who terrorizes babies, who hurts those who haven't harmed you, who adds to the misery of living on planet Earth...then you have to live vegan.

There's no in-between. Either you hurt babies like Darby or you don't. You can smile and laugh and joke and sing and run and play and be happy all you want...but if you aren't living vegan you're terrorizing babies and killing innocence.

I hurt and terrified babies for years and years, and I'm sorrowful that I did. I'm trying to make up for it. Darby has gifted me with her trust...with her innocence. I will honor her trust with my gratitude and my awe...and by living vegan.

I hope you will step away from being a human being who frightens and hurts the Darbys of this most beautiful planet. She deserves to enjoy her life...and you can do much better. Someone observed that living vegan is hard if you're focusing on yourself but living vegan is easy if you're thinking about who you aren't hurting anymore. Think about Darby...because she makes it easy to live vegan.




Friday, February 21, 2014

Several weeks ago...

I was really excited when my local library let me know they had received their copy of a new book titled Moral Tribes by Joshua D. Greene. There have been a number of books and studies in recent years coming out of popular academia about "morality". What triggered all this was the success that Daniel Kahneman had in explaining a cognitive basis for lousy human thinking. By success I mean like Nobel Prize. That's like the academic version of an academy award...except much better.

I haven't been much impressed with the whacks that have been taken at morality...work by folks like Jonathan Haidt and others. Their writings have simply not resonated with me. Maybe it's my age. I don't really know for sure...I tend to approach any popularization of science by referencing Carl Sagan and his various efforts, including the (well-liked by me) book The Demon Haunted World. The new crop of popularizers seem...I don't know...a little too slick for me...more weighted with style as opposed to genuine substance. To me they're just a little step above such thin beer like that served up by Malcom Gladwell and such. A whiff of hucksterism coupled with slick-shallowness.

Anyway, Moral Tribes is written by a fellow who is described in the book jacket as the director of The Moral Cognition Lab at the prestigious Harvard University. What else could you ask for, at least as far as credentialing goes? And yet.

I've become a serious and persistent skeptic of "science" as currently practiced, especially when it references human behavior and my skepticism has grown out of my adventures in living vegan. Our willful and culturally driven blindness to our living relatives permeates all our activities...sadly...and that includes science.

For me, the first thing I do before jumping into a book on morality is go to the index and see if veganism or vegan or animal rights or anything in that vicinity is listed. If it isn't then I know I'm most probably holding a book written by a person with a major blind spot. Well, first off there's no index entry for animal, much less animal rights. There is an index entry for vegetarian on page 311, no entry for vegan. The index already lets me know that this book is not serious.

Page 311. The author is rambling along about late-term abortions. At one point the asserts that if you're pro-choice but against late-term abortions because of fetal consciousness then you have to be against eating certain animals. He writes:
But this is no easy way out. Consistency requires more than being a moral vegetarian.* It requires being a 'militant' vegetarian. Many vegetarians, including those with moral motivations, choose not to eat meat themselves yet remain "pro-choice" about eating meat. They don't regard their meat-eating friends as murderers, and they don't believe that eating meat should be illegal. (Some do but most don't.)
The asterisk references a brief note at the back of the book..."Many of us would have a hard time killing the animals we eat, but that's probably because we're not used to it. Our ancestors did this for millions of years."

And there you have it. That's about all there is about killing and/or eating and/or imprisoning and/or and/or torturing and/or driving extinct any and all living beings on this planet except the human ones. This...from the "Director of the Moral Cognition Laboratory at Harvard University." He exposes himself as both ill-informed and inaccurately informed...and unaware (apparently) of his deficits. And...we would all get used to killing our fellow animals if we just practiced it a little more. Trivialization of the killing of living beings...by the director of a lab for moral cognition? This is unspeakable.

Based on this book and the shallowness and ignorance exhibited, well, we have a long way to go. And we are severely prone to swallow what our culture hands us and to then believe we are grounded in "reality". Even if we are well educated, even if we are accomplished...even if we are "experts" on "morality". A Ph.D. is no guarantee of wisdom, no guarantee of knowledge, no guarantee of perceptiveness. Attending Harvard or Yale or Stanford or any other "esteemed" educational institute is a guarantee of nothing except that you attended classes there. Period. (it does suggest strongly that you came from a wealthy and/or seriously ambitious family...but not much else).

A few weeks ago I put up a post called Teach Your Children. In it I was presenting my impression that we're terribly prone to swallow what we're taught as children even if we're taught to be monstrous and that whatever bent we might have as a species toward behaving well is faint and apparently difficult (if not impossible) for most of us to hear. It may be that we are, in sum, behaving better toward each other (see Steven Pinker's book). Our behavior toward the other living beings on this planet doesn't seem to be better and when the "Director of the Moral Cognition Laboratory" apparently doesn't even know the term vegan, much less what it means, and thinks that most "ethical vegetarians" believe it is ok for others to kill and eat our fellow animals...well...just...groan.

For the record...I firmly believe it should be illegal to exploit and/or harm any animal. Period. And I do not, emphatically not, believe it is acceptable for people to eat animals and I do regard those who do so as participants in murder. And I'm well aware I am not alone in this stance. Sorry Dr. Greene, your comprehension of "morality" is sorely inadequate...along with your fund of information about veganism. You are apparently more interested in chasing a dollar or aggrandizing yourself than you are in presenting complete and accurate information.

Go vegan, you will be living smarter than the director of the Harvard Laboratory for Moral Cognition.



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Until all are free...

none are free.


Go vegan...live a life of freedom for all.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Teach your children...

is the title of a song by Crosby Stills Nash & Young. One stanza includes the lines: "Teach your children what you believe in. Make a world that we can live in."

In a comment by D.E.M. to a recent post she wrote:
...My biggest concern of the moment is this: the access that meat-production has to young minds via the universities; the access it has to their vision, distorting students into seeing "housing" where cages exist. And there is nothing I can do about it.
One of the quests I've been on in the past few years has been to acquire some sort of comprehension or understanding of how horrors like the Nazi holocaust could happen. Primarily because I think whatever aspect of the human animal that allowed and drove the holocaust is probably the same thing that drives or underlies the human assault on every other animal and maybe even the human assault on planet Earth herself.

D.E.M.'s comment made me note that I've tentatively (always subject to revision) realized that yes...we must teach our children...we must teach them that all beings should be respected and left alone and not oppressed or harmed. But...and here's the new stuff (at least for me)...that's no guarantee that such outlooks and/or behaviors will persist or that they will even be incorporated by those children that we teach.

Mainly because...from what I can see...most all of us human "beans" pretty much will learn just about any way of being and motor right on as if it is the coolest way to be there is...no matter whether we're being taught to act like good little nazis or klansmen (or klanswomen) or whether we're being taught to act like good little decent and respectful individuals. There may be some faint yet enduring bent toward not being harmful...but in most of us that bent is oh so very very quiet and easily overwhelmed...if not easily extinguished entirely.

And...as if that wasn't enough...there seems to be a persistent and enduring (albeit small) percentage of us that are maybe completely bent toward harm and destruction and this group waxes and wanes in their ability to influence others to behave in horrid ways. But they never go away and they never ever stop pushing for harm. Sometimes they manifest themselves in such ways that entire populations tump over into an orgy of destruction and horror. Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, you can take a look at history and find your own examples of this dismaying and disgusting tendency of ours. And there are plenty.

Then go look in history for non-violent and freedom promoting and peace embracing cultures. They exist, but jeez...it is sort of imbalanced to look at on the one hand all the pain and fear and destruction associated with Nazi Germany and on the other hand to try and balance that by referring to...oh.....say...Denmark (maybe) or Iceland (maybe). Even then you won't find any cultures that have given up harming our fellow Earthlings. Even when we haven't been whacking on ourselves we've been whacking on all the other beings near us.

How about this...it has taken the human species from the onset of their existence up until 1981 to finally make human slavery illegal in every organized grouping of humans that defined things as legal or illegal. That's a long time...a very long time...thousands and thousands of years. Hey...any group of animals that can't figure out that there is something stinky about enslavement of themselves...well...that's a group that doesn't rate too high (at least on any scale that seems reasonable to me) in the smarts or the "good guy" department. Much less in the "inherently good" department.

We may be "inherently good" (and, on balance, I think/hope we are) but we're certainly no more "inherently good" than any other group of beings on this planet. No way. We seem to get all tangled up in the notion that we're hot stuff...hotter stuff than any other group of Earthlings and one thing we have to do to maintain that sort of silliness is to absolutely avoid looking at ourselves and our behavior and our history. (Otherwise we might shrivel up and die of chagrin and embarrassment and horror.) By the way...most of the horrors of human history are predominately driven by males. Sad but true.

Yes...we better teach the children....but any fantasy that we're not susceptible to being taught most any old thing...well...I don't think that's the way most of us are. Take a look around at all the sexism...all the racism...all the environmental destruction...all the speciesism...all the bad, really bad juju that exists and even dominates our behavior and outlooks and...wow, just wow.

I haven't tried to balance this post with referencing the positives...and there are a few...Donald Watson for instance. And there are more, I know, but what is being pointed out here is that we better teach the kids well because somebody is going to teach them something and the little suckers don't seem to have very good built in bullsh*t detectors. They seem to be willing to believe horrid a**holes like Hitler just as quickly (hell, maybe even more so) than they would someone like Ghandi or Martin Luther King. Go watch the Brown eyes and blue eyes racism experiment if you think I'm talking out of my hat.

In the meantime...live vegan if you don't already. One thing I can promise is that no dictator or horrible person ever in the history of the human species has been vegan (because vegan by definition precludes harming or oppressing others)...it is the one way of living that removes you from the risk of being a systematic and purposive harmer of others.

(disclaimer: Please know that I include myself in the grouping of humans susceptible to swallowing crap whole and thinking it is chocolate. I cringe at all the stupid destructive things I've thought and acted upon...and really cringe at consideration of whatever stupidities and sad making things I continue to act out without realizing them. So...I'm definitely not taking the high ground here...but I'm better than I was...living vegan guarantees that.)