All posts by prymolea

A Rational Reprisal

To depoliticize meat eating and put it on the individual to reason why they eat meat is very eye opening. However, I think the brazen shaming put forth by the paper is concerning. I don’t disagree with the institutionalized issues of our consumer and capitalist driven society, but I have an issue with the aggressive tone put forth by the vegan scholars and their critical animal studies.

Biologically speaking, consuming protein in the form of meat is healthy and encouraged by medical professionals. The only issue is the overwhelmingly massive amount of meat consumption that currently dominates a typical Western diet. Drawing attention to this issue is necessary and encouraged but to throw moral righteousness in people’s face is a bit much.

There are two sides to every story. It is apparent that we currently live in a society that industrially abuses animals in order to provide for the demand the system has created for itself. However, reading articles such as this one puts me on the defensive because of the drastic opposition to the status quo. I feel like there is a way to understand the need to consume a balanced diet while still respecting the organisms that we consume.

Stuck between oblivion and eternity

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the state,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an Idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

–William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Macbeth (Act V, Scene 5)

Try as we might, any reason and meaning humans articulate to portray how we understand the world, pales in comparison to the grandness and entirety of nature. How could something as limiting as human perception be used to encompass all this world and universe have to offer? We humble ourselves and give praise to the forces of nature and the phenomenon that lies out of our control. But it is a false humility. We sing songs of worship about the world around us and then simply write in our books made out of paper harvested from the trees that used to clean the air for us while we expel carbon dioxide from our lungs. After becoming aware, we then aim to reduce the amount of green we wipe forever out of existence and instead turn to creating high powered, clever, and elaborate technology created from rare earth metals that we gouged out from under our feet.

Our impact is not slight, though we may feel minuscule and insignificant in the blinding light of existence in our universe. Our actions are loud. Our words, however, are ephemeral.

Nevertheless, the first and most crucial step towards action is awareness, which begins with a conversation. After all, it is what we are good at.

WARNING: Take only as directed

Many of us have heard of a tapeworm: a parasite that sets root in a host’s intestines and feeds on the host’s partially digested food to leech nutrients for itself. A very interesting tactic that the tapeworm has however, is that it keeps its host alive for a very long time. While some infections or parasites kill their host, a tapeworm needs its host’s digestive environment functioning in order to make its home. Only when tapeworms breed out of control and the sheer mass of them causes blockage, impaired host functioning, or settlement of cysts in places other than the intestines is there a huge problem. Otherwise, a worm can live in a host without them ever even being aware of the threat.

Sounds gross, I know. Nevertheless, it is an apt analogy to the kind of threat and damage humans pose to the planet we reside on. We feed off of the planet’s resources and maneuver around the parts of the environment which we can reasonably gain access too. A distinct difference however is, we have now become aware that we are a detriment to our planet.

But think about it this way, if a tapeworm population became aware that their existence inside the host was causing their host to weaken and perish, what could the population reasonably do to limit their detrimental impact on the host already? The host is obviously already struggling: resources are dwindling but the parasitic population requires a consistent supply to keep them alive. What could be done?

Easy answer would be to get rid of whatever is causing the host to die. The parasite is the cause of the host’s misery; therefore, it must go, or else the host will go with them.

When considering a tapeworm, the concept of “limiting” the population wouldn’t even be discussed. The main reason being that if the population got out of control once, it would only be a matter of time before that happened again. The concept of degrowth seems to be the same for me. Humans, try as they might, are fighting a losing battle, we try to rework our resource consumption and find ways that we can hurt our surroundings a little less, but at the end of the day, our own existence and sheer mass of a population is hurting the place we call home.

Regardless, we can’t just kill off an entire population of humans. In the end, all we can do is treat the symptoms. Whatever medicine we prescribe for ourselves is simply treating the nuisances brought on by a chronic condition. The environment has sustained us for a long time now, all that’s left to see is how long can it go on for.

You can’t have disrespect without disregard

As humans learn more about the world around us, the more we abuse and exploit it; that much is evident. However, it seems to stem from a lack of respect. This lack of respect came unintentionally because we grew in our understanding of nature. Back when natural phenomena were confusing and scary, that fear incited an essence of awe and reverence. When the veil of mystery was finally lifted though the use of science and technology as outlined by Lynn White, then the wonderment of the unknown was tarnished, and as a result we no longer held nature to any high regard.

Religious teachings have been applied in the past to explain not well understood processes of this world. But as the processes began to be explained by science and technology rather than religion, then the respect for religious lessons and morals went away along with religious reason. White’s explanation of how religion was used as justification for man’s dominance over nature in every which serves as further support for those looking to discredit religious views in place today. It seems to be an ironic and vicious cycle without end: we further technology that pulls us further from faith while using a “God-given” right to justify us doing so.

Worse still, we accept this as a “a normal pattern of action” according to White. And then we have the audacity to take it upon ourselves to fix it and consider ourselves saviors of a world in ruin while completely disregarding the core reasons we got into the predicament in the first place. We go so far as to admit that our previous actions ruined our environment, but we never trace back to shed light on the reason for our actions. From what I have read, I believe humans have a need not just a need to dominate over our surroundings, but to obstinately and insatiably do so as well.