Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Coping with Animal Rights Stress

My Holocaust Comparison Project excited feelings of despair in one recipient whom I have never met.  So I sent her a cognitive therapy tool that I once presented at a Toronto Animal Rights Society meeting in 2005.  She found it so helpful that I decided to put it up on my site, suitably reformatted.  It is to help people who experience speciesism in our society and feel helpless, hopeless, or hateful.

Some technical reason prevents me from linking to the document, a PowerPoint, directly from here.  So I direct you now to my General Audience menu. It is an sixth item, called "Coping with Animal Raights Stress."

General Audience Menu

If you think this document is of value, please do pass it on!


David Sztybel

Monday, October 25, 2010

Raging against Oppression

Does anyone dare deny the appropriateness of anger in response to what is in our midst?  Not just annoyance or irritation, but outrage?  For so many years now we have denounced treating people of other so-called “races” or sexes as objects, if not literally then for all of the consideration they are shown.  Yet people blissfully go on treating experiencing others the same way, who happened to be born of a different species.  Kant derided treating others as “mere means” even while human ingenuity presses itself over and against animals as mere “resources.” Or animals are consigned to “the environment,” as though they are just part of our surroundings and we are not a part of theirs. 

Almost all of officialdom stands against the animals.  Yet in the highest offices, from which issue the most powerful commands, these leaders should stand down and stand aside, allowing true leadership that stands against all oppression to assume its rightful place in the world.  Adults commonly act like children for all of the maturity that is lacking in the nihilistic vacuum that is sucking away our global riches and leaving a devastation in its wake.  Our food system is premised on raising animals in houses of torture and shipping them off to yet another, and our medical system is based in vainly trying to force animals to reveal medical information about our own species through tormenting them. The Earth itself, so verdant and rich not so many generations ago, has had more than 95% of its ocean life destroyed, and is like a dying patient, riddled with infection by humans.  Yet humans need not function like a disease. 

We have that ambiguity. We can elevate the forms of life on Earth to soaring heights of vitality if only we dedicate ourselves to such an end.  The Earth itself is now having a near-death experience, and it is hard to imagine anything in our experience that is so urgent.  Have few or no children!  Promote non-pollution and fewer carbon emissions!  These need to be issued as laws and commands, not as polite requests, with a “please.”  It is not to “please” the concerned nor even to allay their righteous anger, but rather for the sake of all of us in the global community, not even just those who are struggling to CREATE a global community. 

If any degree of suffering is treated with contempt, it is part of a still highly dangerous contagion, and friends of that cruelty should not be allowed an all-too-comfortable refuge.  People seek refuge in the narcissism of feelings of complacency, life-swallowing entertainments, and doctrines of nihilism and self-indulgent egoism.  Yet there is no refuge left if we lose this Earth.  Shall we salvage only patches of land?  No—the whole must be made whole, holistically. 

Do I rant and rave?  Yes.  But that is an expression of my fury.  And I challenge anyone to demonstrate that anything less than fury is appropriate to the sum total of degradations that we face.  And will anything else rouse a public that slides ever further from civility, seeing politeness as just one possible “manner” of acting and taxes merely as taxing rather than as a necessary part of the liberation of all from oppression?  The public shirks the role of reason by indulging endless intuitionism or opinion, until all we will be able to believe in is a gradually creeping on post-Apocalyptic horror, more or less deliberately allowed, a debacle of poverty, natural degradation, de facto discrimination, and suffering cruelly permitted. 

Yet we must be gentle with our moral evolution, since it is a delicate process and world problems transcend the power of the individual alone.  People do not always find it easy to leave behind the brain- and life-paths of speciesism, such as eating corpses, and must be helped more than harangued.  Thus we can channel our anger into constructive actions.  But we must not be too timid, or lacking assertion of what is right.  Our fury should lead to a furious pace of counter-transformation of the world even as it becomes more and more metaphorically diseased.  If our anger is at aggression then paradoxically our fury transmutes into gentleness, checking needless aggression against aggression, thus walking beyond oppressors’ defences to a common forum of reasoning that may yet salvage sanity on the world stage.  Healing needs promotion of healthy functioning, not attacking other aspects of our sick planet like an immune system at cross-purposes.

Our inner fury should not therefore be self-indulged.  Yet fury can come out at the last when we are faced not with caring adults, but rather jeering children who echo generations of uncaring forebears before them.  Only when reasoning allows no place for rationalization of oppression can our fury then come out at what lacks any possible excuse, and yet is carried on regardless.  We cannot lose regard for those lacking consideration, but neither can we lose cognizance of their endless numbers of victims. 

We victimize ourselves if we limit our own reason and ability to make powerful changes, thus disempowering ourselves.  Any great movement is only ever made up of individuals, after all.  Liberation is not merely of recipients, but of agents of change.  It is not merely negative, but leads to the most widespread possible joy.  Anger needs to be balanced with appreciation of actual and potential goods in the middle of this global Holocaust, as the whole Earth burns, but most people hesitate to put out the flames.  "Holocaust" literally means a burning of the whole, deriving from burnt offerings of a whole animal as a form of sacrifice. Still, the fires of anger are needed to help put out the fires of oppression that burn this Earth and sacrifice its vulnerable inhabitants.  We do not need water to put out this spiritual and material fire, but only good sense put into action.

Comments Are Warmly Invited

Dear Readers

Now that I have my blog moved to Blogspot, the comment function is available and activated. Please do send your comments, whatever they may be! Anti-animal-rights people, bring out your objections.  You require custom attention with the specific thought processes that you have. Anyone, bring your questions, comments, or exclamations that you may have, and do not hesitate to share them, pro or con. Comments are moderated, but you have the option to post anonymously or with a pseudonym.  Bring on the dialogue!


David Sztybel

Monday, October 18, 2010

Holocaust Comparison Project Rounded Up to 50

I have added another point of comparison, bringing the number of points of comparison between the Holocaust and animal treatment up to 50.  Also embedded are comparable points in PETA exhibitions.  Do objections spring to mind?  Check out my work which addresses key concerns.

The Holocaust Comparison Project: A Photographic Essay

Peace be with you.

Switching to Blooger.com

Over the years a few people have suggested a move of this kind, finding my homemade blog a bit awkward. I always liked having a big list of all my posts. But this software here does allow easy access, and it is a more readable presentation. Also, comments are possible, although I will moderate it. I like the given background, because it suggests an idyllic, bucolic setting like that of an animal sanctuary. That is a positive vision. This was also a good time to rethink the title of the blog, Liberationist Thoughts. I prefer On the Road to Liberation. "Liberation" is more positive than "Abolition," by the way. Francione refers to the abolition of property status. It should really be the abolition of speciesism, and indeed all interconnected forms of oppression, but I address that question in my upcoming animal rights ethics book. Liberation, however, is much more than abolishing oppression. Oppression literally derives from "pressing down" on victims of injustice. It suggests harm, including pressing down on potential. However, liberation involves more than even getting everyone to stop pressing down on others' potential. It is also a positive call to the realization of good through positive justice, which I will argue in my book involves friendship, love, and community. I hope my reflections help others on the road to liberation.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

New: the Holocaust Comparison Project: A Photographic Essay and Short Synopsis of Living Will Argument

Two of my academic essays are now given form for general audiences. I did a short synopsis of my journal article, “A Living Will Clause for Supporters of Animal Experimentation,” Journal of Applied Philosophy 23 (May 2006): 173-189, when I presented at a symposium against vivisection at the University of Ottawa in 2003. The Holocaust Comparison Project is drawn from my article, “Can the Treatment of Nonhuman Animals Be Compared to the Holocaust?” Ethics and the Environment 11 (Spring 2006): 97-132. The article made a 39-point comparison but the Project adds ten more. Not for the faint of heart.