All posts by haydenm

Fish are friends, not food.

Choices are important.  They represent our sense of freedom, and provide many in Western cultures a feeling of antiquated autonomy from some of the few required political taxations, such as those on luxury items, liquor or cigarettes.  Taxes which often inflate the price of goods harmful to users or the environment.

In On the limits of food autonomy, “A classic defense by meat eaters is to declare that their food practices are a personal choice.  Furthermore, vegans are often asked to ‘respect’ the choices of others as a mean of closing down critical conversations.” …. “However what is lost from such a request is the recognition that for most consumers of animal products no choice as such has been made.  Consuming animals is a dominant cultural practice, and so it is part of the set of normalized values and ontological distinctions of the culture we are born into.”  As such, it would appear the requirement for change must start at a global or federal level.  Individual choice to harm the environment must be removed.

“Deploying privacy as a strategy or deflecting criticism incorrectly assumes that such food choices fall within the boundaries of acceptable autonomous actions.  As the taboos against eating other humans and companion species demonstrate, food autonomy does not translate into the license to eat whatever (or whomever) one wants.  The prohibition against cannibalism is not encountered as a limitation on human freedom, because this food ‘choice’ is incompatible with the ownership, exploitation and murder of fellow human beings.  Humans are not food and the desire to consume the flesh of homosapiens is pathological.”  Rather than an argument of who counts as “morally considerable life”, I think we are obligated to consider how great is the existent need for government to supersede ‘choice’.  Western social cultures establish the right for individuals to choose their diet.  And the impact on our ecology has primarily been a response to the growing western populations and the growing demand for animal consumption.

The argument of needing to eat meat is obviously quick to solve. Humans are omnivores, we have adapted to such, and commonly eat both plants and animals.  That said, it is often more humane to consider consuming the flesh of a plant versus an animal.  This is because, while both are considered sentient, the animal is considered akin to our species.  It is notable to mention, plants too are exploited and stressed, to rapidly produce food for mankind.  Arguably however, the stress animals endure is much greater due to their higher cognitive reasoning, but regardless, both are exploited.  Similarly both the plant and animal production cycles impact our world negatively due to the larger-scale productions developed each year, but the output of noxious gases from animal production is much greater.

I agree with the sentiment, and I strongly believe moderation is key.  That said, I believe the reality of Western culture electing for governmental control over food consumption is near non-existent.  Too much is engrained in the concept of giving up meat.  To have empathy for animals, we first must have empathy for ourselves and those around us.  Awareness is key.

Human nature: an oxymoron?

Good grief.  The ideas presented in the afterword Twenty-Two Theses on Nature are “all-encompassing”.   The statements often proved much more verbose than required to portray an idea.  Nevertheless, the overall concepts extended from the theses are agreeable.

First, given our ecological crisis of today, Man versus Nature is no longer an option.  “We can no longer think of Nature as one side of a binary opposition”.  With a continued practice of this idiom, our world resources will continue to decline, and our human population will continue to struggle against a Whole much larger than ourselves.

Second, Nature has always been, and always will be.  “The radical unknowability of Nature is not an epistemological constraint; it is a basic, and positive, ontological feature of Nature itself.  Regardless of the affects Man has imposed upon Nature, humanity’s understanding of Nature is that it will persist past our timeline.  Planets, moons, stars, galaxies, and solar systems will all endure.

Third, Nature is a loose construct with much to still be discovered.  “Perception is only a particular sort of causality.  When I perceive something, this means that the thing in question has affected me in some way”…”But if I’m affected by something, then that something has had an effect upon me.”  And “I am often affected by things without overtly perceiving them.  I feel the symptoms of a cold, but I do not sense the virus that actually causes me to fall ill.”  Humans have adeptly realized the extent of our ecological crisis through the construct of Nature.  Global warming directly swells Earth’s oceans, and species suffer as habitats are rapidly dissolved, all due in part to the implicit nature of humanity.  Humans are the virus to the Nature of Earth.  We see the symptoms, but a virus cannot contain itself from spreading.

Given these Twenty-Two Theses on Nature, I find it intriguing to consider further developing the current concept of human nature.  To perceive “human nature” not as the essence of humanity, but as a descriptor of the adapted environment around us.  Nature will continue to exist, but humanity has developed a perceived control of nature through food production and technology.  Given Nature is a loose construct, I encourage us all to consider if “human nature” could mean a Nature where humans adapt to better coexist and provide nature and resources to the world.

Sharing is Caring

Common understanding is that growth is a positive and attainable goal, which can be measured.  For a world to thrive and succeed, it must seek the best for its people.  A move which is often interpreted to mean new industrial developments, vast resources, and adaptable technologies.  The concept presented in “Degrowth” is portrayed in a manner which alludes “degrowth” is in fact the real positive and attainable goal our world should be seeking.  In the sense that “degrowth” in fact provides a net positive impact to the world, unlike the method of “growth” which is, “uneconomic and unjust”…”because the benefits accrue to those who hold power and the costs to those who are marginalized.”

The idea presented declares growth to be ecologically unsustainable and claims that above a certain level, growth does not increase happiness.  This in turn exposes “Degrowth”  to be an anti-capitalist manifesto.  Similar to White’s position that Christianity is the root of our world’s current ecological crisis.  “Degrowth” takes a position that Capitalism is the primary cause for our world’s ecological crisis due to our engrained need for growth, and the Earth’s inherent limit of resources.  Capitalism is truly the root of all evil.

Overall, I have doubts that the argument for degrowth could be successfully carried out.  The idea is in a simplistic form similar to the conceptual framework of Socialism.  It simply lacks the official title of such.  Nonetheless, I do not believe humanity has the ability to reach full equality.  The idea is antiquated and the desire to compete is widely accepted to be part of human nature.  Self-limitation can be taught and enforced, but the empathy for others and recognition for the need would be the most difficult task to achieve for the entirety of society.  Sharing is caring, but the world is a tuned to siblings, and sharing is not always easy.


Go East, Young Man, Go East!

Current ideal often encourages anything which is new or perceived as an advancement.  Little homage, however is shown to previous designs, and rarely are unintended consequences considered.  This ideal influences humanity to diverge from a respect for nature.  As White discusses in The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis, a greater awareness and respect may have been more prevalent if humanity felt there was a human-like presence in every object in nature, which comprises our world.  The idea of Paganism is therefore able to establish a sense of camaraderie through animism, with ideally a lesser tendency to exploit those similar to our own kind.  In theory, I find this concept of religion shaping our view of the world, and specifically nature, fascinating.  In reality, I have little faith that religion is the answer.  Religion is only as strong as it’s following.  In truth, I believe we may find our answers in more than one stronghold.   

I believe the act of growing up in nature teaches one more respect for the world that is around them.  Not in the literal sense of run with the wolves, but rather growing up perhaps in Pacific Northwest America, where there are vast forests and abundant primarily, sustainable agricultural communities.  After all, one’s surroundings shape them as they grow, be that concrete jungles or vast forests within reach of their backyards.  Humanity thrives from interaction, and relates based on experience.  When one grows up physically closer to nature the may feel closer to nature.

Reading the two works together felt like a unique opportunity.  White wrote The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis in 1967, decades before Pope Francis was elected, and began to introduce new ideals for modern Christianity.  Nevertheless, White offers Saint Francis as the “patron saint for ecologists”.  I can only hope this means humanity is capable of continuing to heal our world through our faith in one another and a greater admiration for the world which supports us all.

In 1865, in an editorial in the New York Tribune, Horace Greeley wrote, “Go West, young man, and grow up with the country.”  Today, America has reached tremendous advances with technology and expanded across the states.  Regardless of order, the world has expanded as well.  The current demand for resources outweighs the availability, and the lack of understanding and respect for the world which supports us will continue to drive humanity to a premature death.  To change our ways, humanity must realign its values to persevere. Additionally, the development of technology for the use of supporting the earth—including all its inhabitants—must be established.  Now out with the old ideal.  Go East, young man, and carry a new view for America.  For our world.