In May, I announced our new series about lessons I have learned from human rights movements that will help us build our connectionist movement. Let’s continue on with the 2nd installment, shall we?
When animal rights activists and connectionists hear talk of “dehumanizing” individuals, we often have a much different reaction than human rights exclusive folks. To talk of dehumanization, to us, implies speciesism. The idea that one of the worst things a person could be compared to is a non-human animal, the other, supports a hierarchy of worth. But we need to put these statements into context. We know that there is a strong hierarchy of power and worth embraced as the status quo, the norm. We know that this hierarchy justifies the exploitation of that which does not fit into the top level of the hierarchy, humanity. So in essence, it is true that to be dehumanized has horrible consequences for human beings. When individuals are dehumanized, they do not enjoy freedom from exploitation. To see this reality, we need only look at both past and modern-day human slavery as an example.
- Barrier 4: The speciesism of “dehumanization.”
- Proposed Solution to Barrier 4: Put these statements into context. Avoid immediately reacting to the speciesist components of this analysis. Recognize the historical and current tactic of comparing humans to animals as a means to justify violence and oppression. Come to the discussion with an authentic understanding and acknowledgement of this reality.
For many of the reasons noted in previous barriers, a connectionist perspective makes folks angry. It challenges the comfort and privilege gained from the exploitation of other humans, non-human animals, and the environment. It causes cognitive dissonance. To hear a connectionist perspective is to analyze every choice one makes. The solution? Either acknowledge how all choices impact all beings and the planet or deny it. Denial usually comes in the form of anger, no? It’s hard to interact with anyone who comes to the table from a place of anger, but the more we can expect and understand it, the more effective we’ll be.
- Barrier 5: Anger
- Proposed Solution to Barrier 5: Be prepared, understanding, and honest about anger. Expect anger from human rights exclusive folks, understand where it comes from, and honestly reflect it back to the person. Avoiding or ignoring it will get us nowhere. The more we can highlight anger and explore where it comes from, the more we’ll be able to bring the roots of exploitation to light. People may not appreciate the mirror we hold up right away, but it is sure to have an impact. Besides, what’s the harm? They are already angry.
Stay tuned for more! In the meantime, what are your thoughts and experiences? Have you come from human rights movements?
Nonviolence United urges people to, and assists people in, live(ing) a life connected. Centered around non-violence and connectionist living, they hope to create a world revolution based on compassion and personal responsibility. Check out their great booklet about living a life connected!
Even though Satya published its final issue in 2007, its articles remain relevant and accessible. With several back issues posted on their site, you’ll find engaging readings that connect the dots, exploring interconnected oppressions and specifically address vegetarianism, environmentalism, animal advocacy, and social justice. Some of our favorite connectionist authors, like Patrice Jones, have written for Satya, directly discussing the connections between movements, such as this article linking feminist, queer, and animal liberation movements. Enjoy!
Become part of the collective! L.O.V.E. promotes veganism as a way to connect the dots. As their website explains:
L.O.V.E. is an anti-oppression collective that promotes veganism as an effective way to eliminate speciesist oppression. LOVE is dedicated to understanding speciesist oppression as a form of oppression and actively opposing all forms of oppression.
We love L.O.V.E. because posts like Ending Rape Culture is a Vegan Issue highlight how the exploitation of non-human animals is rooted in, reflects, and supports human rights violations.
Register for L.O.V.E and show your connectionist support!
The Institute for Humane Education (IHE) was the first connectionist resource we ever found. As you may know, humane education is the connectionist form of education, addressing human rights, environmental preservation, and animal protection as interconnected and necessary for a healthy, just world. In 2011 IHE celebrates its 15th anniversary! That means the organization has been offering graduate programs, online programs, workshops, presentations, and more for more than a decade. Having been privileged to participate in IHE’s workshops, observed its M.Ed. graduates in action, and read and watched founder Zoe Weil’s fabulous books and presentations, we look forward to supporting IHE as it thrives for another 15 years.
Want to find out if your vegan chocolate is truly cruelty free? What about how the conditions workers on factory farms face? Look no further than the Food Empowerment Project! The Food Empowerment Project seeks to create a more just and sustainable world by recognizing the power of one’s food choices. It connects the dots by looking at how our food choices not only affect non human animals, but also how those choices impact humans and the environment. A fabulous resource run by amazing people, we encourage you to check it out, visit their table at conferences, and go see founder lauren Ornelas at one of her many speaking engagements.
One Green Planet is an “online destination for the ecologically ethical generation.” They explain that the site is:
...an online ecosystem that draws links between the world of ecology, the environment and vegan living. We are a platform that brings together a range of distinct voices, unified by a commitment to spreading good ideas that benefit people, animals and the planet.
In addition to yummy vegan recipes, you’ll find submissions by readers and community members that discuss interconnected issues, such as facts on animal farming and the environment. We always enjoy posts on this site and encourage you to check it out and submit!
The Sistah Vegan Project focuses on how plant-based consumptive lifestyle is affected by factors of race, racisms, sexism, heterosexism, classism, and other social injustices within the lives of black females. You’ll find readings, videos, and more on this fantastic site. Sistah Vegan is also a fabulous book edited by Breeze Harper. Breeze is a PhD candidate in critical food geographies at UCD. PLEASE SUPPORT The Sistah Vegan Project by contributing a donation to help Breeze complete her PhD!