Category Archives: Perspectives

Gaining Vision

By questioning the legitimacy of domestication of animals and finding it irrational as a means to a just and peaceful world, we are responsible for developing a viable alternative way of living.

The new culture without domestication is underway.  Daily, ongoing abolitionist vegans and newly turned abolitionist vegans reject the use of animals as justifiable and each of them who is able takes care of animals who are refugees of domestication.

In the previous essay (Recognizing a Blind Spot) I mentioned fear of apocalyptic conditions and worse case scenarios for animals as domestication ends (But what will happen to all the animals if everyone goes vegan?),  as well as the desired and habitual companionships between animals and humans that many people do not want taken from them. Both fears may cause reluctance in supporting the end of domestication.

If we are to take ending domestication seriously, we do have to answer the question  of the potential extinction of certain species.  This may be distasteful and feel Machiavellian to some, but let us not forget that many of the domesticated breeds came at the price of extinction of their wild predecessors.  I would argue that the entrenched practice of domestication preceded Machiavelli in its manner of “dishonesty and killing of innocents” as the means to its power.1

If we hang on to domestication as a supposed virtuous means to avoid extinction of some species – ones who absolutely depend on our compensatory care at huge expense to so much more – we risk the extinction of other species who are at least equipped to live independently if we return them access to untold acres of land and water.  Not to mention that these free living species are vital for biodiversity and ecosystemic well being.

Keep in mind that as domestication dies out we would regain the ability to grow more plants for human consumption, which requires less acreage and water to sufficiently feed everyone to good health. We would reinstate forests and other public lands that have been co-opted or destructively usurped for unsupportable numbers of domesticated grazing species.  We would allow the return of large predators who for generations have been persecuted and driven to destitution, toward extinction, if not forced extinct entirely.

Undoing the disaster of animal domestication  may push our emotional buttons, but it is a selfish anthropocentric reaction to lament life without dogs, cats and others whose lives are valued conditionally according to our arbitrary criteria.  If we agree that animals have the right not to be property we agree there is no choice but to stop forcing existence of some while denying the valid existence of others.

Having animal lovers among us who are comfortable and knowledgeable about caring for refugees of domestication is key to a healthy transition away from domestication. For any person reading this at the time of publishing who can’t imagine living without certain animals, it can almost be guaranteed that in your life time you’d have plenty of needy animals to adopt or foster through this transition.  If we were to end breeding of all domesticated animals today it would be at least one human generation (25 -35 years) for the youngest of some of them to reach their potential natural lifespan (longer for certain species like some birds and elephants.)

This timeline would most probably be extended by the fact that all breeding would not end at once, and some may not be reasonably or easily controlled at first.  Feral, stray and unwanted animals represent  a desperate population already,  in the midst of domestication. As it ends support for the teams of caregivers will be developed.  New or expanded professions of caregivers and educators related to humans and animals sharing territory under the right of none being property will emerge.

Educating ourselves on the ways to have relationships with animals without expectation of them serving us to fulfill their reason for being alive not only goes to meeting our obligations to them for forcing their existence, but presents an opportunity to reconcile with nature and begins our revised outlook toward  the roles of human- animal relationships in the new culture. By ending animal use we are able to spend time building relationships without dominance or superiority, not only between us and the animals for whom we care, but with our fellow humans.

Through non-violent education teaching people to see animals as beings deserving of living in freedom alongside us and enjoying the right not to be human property is the gateway to letting go of our fears of not having animal relationships. Most people already agree that it is wrong to unnecessarily cause harm to animals, so guiding them to develop mutual relationships with those in their care without expectations and baggage of traditional human-animal relationship concepts is an early phase of our transition out of domestication.

Many people I know, myself included, are turning their homes and properties of acreage into sanctuaries that support  this work.  By removing the methods of coercive training and forced behavioral compliance  we learn to communicate with animals in a way that acknowledges their sentience and intelligence, that does not require dominance or punishment and begets a cooperative relationship that respects the boundaries of etiquette and safety.

Taking this approach with animals for whom we do care develops our understanding of meeting the other human and non-human beings of the world  with whom we may think we have no relation as exactly  the same as those we already hold dear. With unconditional love, where no one is “other”, there is freedom and justice.

Notes:
1. Niccolo Machiavelli,  Wikipedia

Recommended Reading:
howdoigovegan.com

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Recognizing a Blind Spot

There is a huge blind spot for many of us when it comes to discussing the rational end of domestication of animals and what happens next because we are only able to imagine the end without the vision of the new culture (Read next Gaining Vision).

Many of us see the end of domestication only as a sort of totalitarian abandonment or mass extermination of certain species, a kind of apocalyptic mayhem. Who wouldn’t shudder at the thought of the billions of domesticated animals simply being sent to run amok, or genuinely worry about how they would fare if no one cared for them?  Of course, simply opening cages, doors and gates is not a responsible action in the redevelopment of culture without domestication.

Often, we can only see our own loneliness in a world where domestication ends, so we resist ending it. We  have a deep seated habit for personal companionships with some animals, enamored and enabled by their dependence on us and our dependence on them to the point that we cannot imagine life without a dog at our heels, a cat in our laps, or a horse in the field, to name a few of our favorite fetishes.

Our entire social and economic system is based on thousands of years animal exploitation and could not be dismantled in one fell political swoop or all at once by any means save perhaps cosmological catastrophe. This makes it seem altogether insurmountable. Plus a majority of people appear to see no problem with the way things are and form another possible obstacle. Let’s be level headed, we know that such a shift will require and endure a period of transition.  This should not prevent us from seriously approaching the end of domestication of animals.

For anyone concerned that the end of domestication is untenable let’s consider that humans – as anatomically evolved as we are today – emerged about 200,000 years ago. Domestication didn’t get a foothold until about 190, 000 years later.  Homo sapiens have survived far longer without domestication than we have lived with it. Today’s rate of demise of the planet’s ability to support humanity in its current domestication driven way of life suggests that we won’t  live much longer with it either.

With only about 5000 years of recorded history, first hand contemporary accounts of life before domestication of animals are not available.  The written records, especially from the last 2000 to 1500 years up to today – whether biased official historical presentations, commercial and political propaganda along with personal observations in correspondence,  literature and other commentary –  outline and, in many instances,  highlight the detrimental disturbances and misfortunes of the practice of domestication.

From the devastation of wild life, to the decimation and enslavement of indigenous populations to the desecration of land and water sources to disease to war to wage slavery, to the torture of the animals, ill-fated dietary habits and more, they are all replete with connections to the earliest pastoralists.1  Is this something we honestly want to preserve?

Since we today only know a world built on domestication it’s not surprising that a popular argument it is that is natural and justifiable and even worthy of celebration and honor.  We pick and choose single issue symptoms  as the problems of the human condition or animal welfare, ignoring the festering unjust source of so many of our conflicts, domestication of animals.

A large census of us have been convinced that our lives are better, more convenient, more enjoyable with domestication.  Yet, none of us has lived without the influence, direct or indirect, of the oppression, inequality, unfair competition, scarcity, desperation, brutality, conflict and fear that are ready side effects of animal domestication.  How can we really know that our lives are better from domestication than they could be without it?

Sure, for some few there are great riches and power to be had in this system, for some number more there is an achievement of arrival in to a contrived lauded standard of living. Many more dream for a costume of such fashionable happiness,  perhaps not understanding that it doesn’t necessarily include freedom or security.  And regardless the amounts in our bank accounts, many of us still suffer some form of impoverishment, whether by abject discrimination and oppression, disease, or as lack of empathy and emotional or spiritual destitution. All of these are symptoms of the manifestation of the domestication of animals.

If so many of the ills of society can be linked to the domestication of animals – not to mention the grotesque torture of the animals themselves or their subjectively restricted and dependent lives as property – doesn’t it make sense that ending domestication would be a priority in our aim for restoring  well being to the planet?2

Notes:

1. David A. Nibert,  Animal oppression & Human Violence: Domesecration, Capitalism and Global Conflict,  2013, Columbia University Press

2. Recommended reading:

Gary L. Francione and Anna Charlton

Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach 

Eat Like You Care: An Examination of the Morality of Eating Animals

The Abolitionist Approach

howdoigovegan.com

Giving Sanctuary

Now is the time to abolish the domestication of animals. Let’s detach ourselves from the environmentally destructive and deathly slave trade of non-human beings.  It’s never too soon to end the demand for animal products by living a non-violent vegan life which will open the door for a world wide paradigm of peace. Denounce animal use for food, entertainment or convenience; support the end of the breeding of animals that require humans for sustenance, shelter and privileges of freedom and take responsibility for one or more animals that are already alive by giving them refuge with you for the rest of their lives.

For generations we have been made aware of the high numbers of unwanted domesticated animals, such as our typical canine and feline pets and horses. But there are also birds, rabbits, rodents, reptiles, and amphibians. Certainly, there is no longer hiding the brutality waged against farmed animals. (By the way, any husbandry that claims happiness for the animals but still ends in premeditated slaughter is not a viable alternative.)

This age old problem will not disappear unless we destroy it at the root, by the cessation of animal domestication. Any animal that has been removed from its natural habitat with no hope of returning to the wild, or that has been born into captivity deserves sanctuary to live out its life without a price on its head or a debt to be paid.

When you have freed yourself from the chains of animal use, you have an opportunity to see the world in a new way.  Explore the affinity between humans and non-human animals. As part of your care for them during the transition to the end of domestication you should study their anatomy, physiology and social behavior. To the best of your ability provide the habitat that best meets the needs of the species in your care, allowing them as much freedom as possible. Learn about the origins of the species, become familiar with the idea of mankind cohabitating with animals on earth without the notion of controlling them.

Ending animal domestication may seem like folly to some, but I see it as a great step toward the positive and sustainable redirection for humanity and the planet.

Be vegan. 

An Outlet to Free Thinking (Revised with Notes)

Revised February 11, 2015

The primary reason for me reviving my childhood love of horses as an adult was to satisfy my need for adventurous activity. I was going to get myself out of the house and add value to my life with athletic prowess.  I was going to boost my confidence by achievement in the show ring.  Happiness would bloom within my soul by virtue of the relationship I had with a horse.

The glamour and grit of the horse world with its leather accoutrements, Olympic heroes and rugged cowboys enticed me. The idea of leading a partnership with a large animal was intoxicating. But when I began to participate in this world of horses the road continually turned and the happiness I had sought began to disappear from view.  After a few years I had acquired several horses and spent thousands of dollars on lessons and training, but instead of seamless progression of improvement in skill and relationship something else entered my awareness.

Nearly all the ways that the traditional and conventional methods of horsemanship directed humans how to be with horses required that the human prevail as the dominant partner.  The horse was required to obey and submit with respect.  The horse was a tool of transport, equipment for sport, a commodity for entertainment and profit.   His fear, his pain, his choice were all subservient to the will of the human. This is still the mainstream attitude.

While the mainstream manages to run up to a dam against free thinking, there are outlets.  It is possible to open your eyes and look into the eyes of a horse and see some-one instead of some – thing.  It is possible to question authority and listen directly to your horse and your own heart.  There is room to step back and review the popular culture of domesticated horses and admit that it is a manner of enslavement and imprisonment.

This may sound shocking, but it is not hard to see the parallels. Of course, there is even a whole language that ranges from euphemisms to clear terms for dreadful acts that are numbly accepted as normal things to do unto a sentient being.  The equine industry – make no mistake, it is big business – fights tooth and nail to validate its history and tradition as justifiably righteous.

Yet there is no law that says one must treat a horse so appallingly and if you are uneasy about gaining your happiness from the physical or emotional pain of others you can walk away from all that tradition – and you can still have a relationship with a horse1.

When I awoke to this notion of liberty for horses I found an opportunity for enlightened self-development2.  I was more attracted to nature as a part of myself.  I discovered the freedom and truth that can be revealed through science.   I began to climb out of ignorance and live fully through intelligence, which includes intuition, and heartfelt reasoning.

And now indeed happiness has bloomed within my soul by virtue of the relationships I have with the horses in my care.3

Notes:

1. In the original post I had said “…-and you can still have a horse.” This may have suggested that it is acceptable for a human to own or keep horses as if they are ours to use and breed for our benefit and fulfillment over what the needs and desires of a horse might be. It is imperative to understand that by now any horses or other non-human animals we take into our care must be approached with the consideration of them as their own persons and that we are giving them asylum from the persecution of domestication. In adopting, fostering and giving sanctuary to any species there is necessarily  some level of relationship and perhaps even true friendship. However, let me be clear that there can be no force or coercion employed  to make an animal like you or respect you, or appear to do so. They owe us nothing.

My revision to say “…-and you can still have a relationship with a horse” is acknowledging that many of us have affinities  with certain non-human animals and that there  are captive and domesticated horses in need of homes. The relationships I describe are part of the transition from domestication to emancipation, they are not mere welfare reforms aimed at maintaining human use of animals for any reason. The ultimate goal is to end  the tradition of domestication itself.

2. When one begins to think critically about the coercive and painful (physical and psychological) types of training, restraint and confinement used on domesticated animals, even those we claim as companions, our first reaction might be only to look at the treatment and miss the point that bestowing property status on animals is the root problem.  When I speak of my awakening to the notion of liberty for horses it is not only about walking away from harsh treatment, but that there is no superior being present.

The opportunity we all have for self-development is based upon a different attitude toward non-human animals where they are free to express themselves without punishment. When we accept the equal inherent value felt by each sentient being we must reexamine our interpretations of  signals and communications from non-humans and more closely check our motivations for initiating interactions with them. That we are not able to safely turn already living animals loose at this time, that they still must be subjected to certain types of confinement and continue to rely on us for food and shelter requires us to modify our management to offer them the most freedom within those limitations as long as they last.  This will be discussed further in other essays related to the transition out of domestication.

3. “And now indeed happiness has bloomed within my soul by virtue of the relationships I have with my horses.”

In the original ending of this post, I called the horses in my care, my horses.  Legally I do own them and while changing the language doesn’t change the law, perhaps it is a way  help us  rightly see non-human animals as persons and not wrongly to view them as things that we can possess.  I will revise it as such for now, but I don’t want to create confusion or encourage euphemistic phrasing that obscures the unjust property status of animals.