All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.– George Orwell, Animal Farm
There are some hierarchies that are healthy and natural. For instance, infants experience caregiving attachment figures in a hierarchal system, with the one deemed as most available and reliably able to provide safety and security at the top, followed by second choice and so on. If you are an infant, it is important to know who to count on the most and this helps support healthy development.
Then there are other hierarchies that are not healthy or naturally occurring. Instead, they are human creations, passed along through cultural conditioning. The top dictionary definition of hierarchy states that it is: any system of persons or things ranked one above another. Honestly, it gave me chills when I read that and not in a good way. It disturbed me and I felt a little bit sick. My association was not about healthy, developing infants ranking their preferred caregivers in service to their own best interest. Instead, it was the foundational template for oppression.
Over the years, I have thought a lot about oppression. It is a topic I hope to someday write much more about because of its extreme importance. It plays out in many ways, and has contributed to many of our –isms, e.g. racism, sexism, classism, etc. To me, it is an insidious, under-recognized threat that not only detracts from well-being and the common good, but at this point in time is additionally utterly undermining species-preservation. I use that word in the context of ‘healthy human state’. Trauma and high levels of stress unplug us from that state and we shift instead into self-survival. Self-survival helps us in certain, specific, brief, truly life-threatening situations, however, when misapplied and chronic, it has the exact opposite effect. We lose our felt-connection to the whole and within that lose our ability to live in our natural, healthy state, in support of species-preservation.
As some of you know, we are currently experiencing the sixth mass extinction on this planet. While human-caused loss of biodiversity has reached a crisis point and joined the list of threats to human existence, many are still unaware that animal agriculture deserves much of the blame for that.
It is beyond time to re-examine not only our priorities, but additionally, the cultural conditioning underneath.
Sunday, May 22, 6:30pm we are hosting, A Screening of Speciesism. The film will help us do some of this necessary philosophical re-examination of our conditioning and the post-film conversation will be a very important one for us to have. Please join us. RSVP here.
Thanks for staying engaged,
Co-founder and Executive Director, Living Ubuntu