Santa Cruz Indymedia :
Santa Cruz Indymedia

An Injury to One is an Injury to All

What’s the point of knitting a sweater-while unraveling it at the same time? Social justice workers, gay men and lesbians fighting homophobia, feminists, civil rights activists and even environmentalists “unravel? all their good work if they abuse their power over animals and Nature! What a bitter irony!
What is the source of racism, sexism, homophobia, sweatshops, child labor, war and all the other ways humans oppress each other? Why are we arrogantly destroying Mother Earth who sustains all living beings-including humans and their global economy? Why do these insane practices from the age of barbarism continue?
Humans have used prejudice to justify exploiting each other for thousands of years. All prejudice is based on “otherness.? Oppressors regard the oppressed as “different.? Nuclear weapons make this primitive “us vs. them? worldview as dangerous as it is outdated.
In “Animal Liberation,? Peter Singer calls prejudice against animals and nature “speciesism.? Cruelty to animals, environmental destruction and human vs. human oppression are all interconnected abuses of power. Jeremy Bentham, a philosopher centuries ahead of his time opposed both slavery and cruelty to animals. He said, “The question is not ‘Can they reason?’ nor ‘Can they talk?’ The question is ‘Can they suffer? ‘ No matter what the nature of the being, the principle of equality requires that its suffering be counted equally.?
Ranking the suffering of some beings as being more important than the suffering of others is an ethical slippery slope. Descartes heartlessly said animals were just unfeeling mechanisms created for us to use and whose cries of pain were merely the sounds of machinery! Men with these views easily ignored the agonized cries coming from the filthy holds of their slave ships since they regarded their human cargo as animals without souls!
A secretly taped video showed slaughterhouse workers hacking the legs off cattle and skinning them while these suffering beings were still fully conscious! According to the Humane Farming Association, workers are forced to slaughter at blinding speed or get fired. This means they often don’t have time to stun the cattle before cutting them to pieces!
Poultry slaughterers (mostly women of color) often get carpal tunnel syndrome from cutting chicken’s throats at a brutal pace day after day. When their arms become exhausted, their blades often miss. Many of these pitiful birds are still conscious and alive when dipped in scalding water to remove their feathers.
Karen Davis is the president and founder of United Poultry Concerns. Her group promotes compassion for domestic fowl. She said, “The argument that a group of individuals is ‘all alike’ has been used throughout human history as an excuse to oppress that group and so, harming them seems less horrendous. Chickens, whether intelligent or stupid, individual or identical are sensitive beings. They feel pleasure and pain and experience fear and well-being. This is enough to make it wrong to cause them pain and suffering.? UPC’s website is
Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple is a tireless activist who fights against racism. She made the connection between animal abuse, sexism and racism when she visited a factory farm. When she saw thousands of suffering hens crammed into filthy cages her heart was filled her heart with grief.At that moment, she realized these hens were her sisters. Women who fight sexism, domestic violence and exploitation should also realize that they perpetuate their own abuse when they exploit non-human females and eat their flesh.
In his book An Unnatural Order Jim Mason traced the source of what he calls Dominionism (the abuse of animals, the environment-and humans). As gatherer-hunters, we saw ourselves as part of the natural world and believed every being, including trees and plants, had a soul and was sacred. When hunters killed an animal, they apologized to its soul since they knew the animals were their relatives. This worldview changed 10,000 years ago when humans began to dominate nature with agriculture and animal husbandry. Domesticating (enslaving) animals required blunting compassion since each animal was known as an individual. Thus, animals had to be regarded as “lower? beings without souls in order to kill them without remorse. No longer our relatives, they were now merely “things? to be exploited since they were “different? than us. This Dominionist worldview legitimized slavery, genocide, rape and all oppression against “different? people. This led to the violent world we now must deal with. Globally, modern human society is still based on primitive Dominionism (might makes right).
Thanks to male-supremacist organized religion, Dominionism has had a long shelf-life. It’s supported and enforced by all the father-god religions, including Christianity, Judiasm, Islam, Hinduism, and Confucianism. Even some Buddhist sects teach that one must be born a human male to achieve enlightenment!
According to the bible (Genesis1:2),?God blessed them and said to them, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle and over all the wild beasts that move upon the earth.?
Richard Lewinsohn, author of “Animals Men and Myths? said the corral was the first concentration camp and the rope around an animal’s foot the first shackle. Many people eat meat and use animal products from animal concentration camps (factory farms) without even considering the feelings of the suffering beings they consume.
The misery of fellow humans (overworked slaughterhouse workers) is also not given a thought. The meat industry deliberately builds slaughterhouses in impoverished areas where workers endure horrible working conditions—and racism. Americans are pitted against immigrants. In the slaughterhouse, humans and animals alike are exploited and abused.
Manifestations of speciesism, such as factory farms, rodeos, circuses and bull fights are condoned by the dominant culture of Dominionism-which also accommodates war and environmental destruction. Societies desensitized by Dominionism are unlikely to stop abusing humans, exterminating their fellow earthlings and destroying the natural world.
Speciesism perpetuates Dominionism. The wealthy ruling class treats everyone else like animals†and uses military force (murder and torture) to protect its economic interests. Under Dominionism, we are all the cattle of the rich whose corporate media promotes violence and “otherness.? Divide and conquer makes us easier to control and exploit.
However, Mason and many psychologists believe violence is a learned behavior and that humans, especially men, are naturally kind and non-violent -when not abused. In her book The Chalice and the Blade, Riane Eisler cites archaeological evidence from peaceful Goddess societies in ancient Turkey to prove that is is not natural for men to wage war. Murals and artifacts indicate they enjoyed 1,500 years of peace!
When we practice integrating acts of compassion into our everyday lives by avoiding animal products, we resensitize ourselves and lay the foundation for a new worldview based on empathy with the oppressed instead of “otherness.?
Mason believes a compassionate world of peace can still be created and is within our reach.
An Unnatural Order? can be obtained by asking a local bookstore to order a copy or by visiting
None of us are free if one of us is caged!

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