We Can Change Culture: Part 2

11 Oct

In our last blog, I asserted that we can change culture.  More than that, I argued that we MUST change culture to create a peaceful and just world.  The following quote comes from the poet David Mura, as quoted in the book Pornified by Pamela Paul.

Attributing pornography’s growth to demand by individuals ignores what we know by experience: if one walks down the street and sees ten images of women as sexual objects, one may certianly be able to reject those images; yet it is also true that one will have to expend a greater amount of energy rejecting these images than if one saw only five or two or none at all.  Assuming that human beings have only a limited amount of energy, it is obvious that the more images there are, the harder it will be for the individual to resist them; one must, after all, expend energy on other activities too….The greater the frequency of such images, the greater the likelihood that they will overwhelm people’s resistance.  This fact is known, of course, by all those invovled in advertising and the media, and is readily accepted by  most consumers–except when it comes to pornography.

I’m not writing this so we can have a discussion about pornography (though you know I’d love to).  Instead, I highlighted this quote because I think it speaks to a connectionist perspective.  When it comes to violence, for example, we as humans are surrounded by  violent images and violent acts every day – in more ways than many would like to admit.  There’s the violence we all think of – human on human violence that we see on the news, in our neighborhoods, in our families, and in entertainment – and then there’s the violence we ignore, actively refute, and justify.  This violence shows up on our plates throughout the day, it is visible as we look out to the horizon, and much more.  We are absolutely inundated with violence every second of the day, so much so that we violently deny it is violence.  I fully expect comments angrily asking how I dare to imply that humans, animals, and the environment are on the same level of importance and that there is no hierarchy.  How dare I suggest that it is possible to perpetrate violence on animals or, give me a break, the environment.  It happens every time I bring it up, without fail.  In our current atmosphere, it’s not okay for me to say these things.  Believe me, I know I’m taking a major risk publicly speaking about this.  It took a long time, over 10 years, for me to be willing to attach my name to these ideas.  You’ll read about this in my essay for Connect the Dots Essays.

This is culture.  This is deeply imbedded culture that must change if we are going to realize a peaceful and just world.  I don’t want to be afraid to suggest that violence extends beyond humans.  I don’t want to be restricted by norms that direct me not to extend beyond the status quo or there will be negative consequences.  I’m still scared to bring this up.  The consequences of doing so have threatened and continue to threaten me and my life in a number of ways.

Things are changing slowly.  There was a time long ago when I couldn’t talk about animal shelters without being accosted for caring about animals when, “battered women need shelter more than animals do.”  But we still exist in the either/or, the false dichotomies, the silos, that allow a culture of violence to be normal.  This must change.  We can’t just focus on a fragment of culture and expect things to get better.  We must focus on the whole picture – all of it.

That’s exactly what the Connect the Dots Movement is all about.  If you’re not afraid to speak out, please join us.



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