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What’s The Official Story? Cultural Change for a Connectionist World

20 Oct

Dr. Will Tuttle wrote a fabulous article for One Green Planet in which he discusses the fact that the Occupy Wall Street movement has included industrial animal abuse in their list of concerns.  While we wrote about that exciting phenomenon in a recent post, we want to highlight his article for another reason – culture.

In this article, Dr. Tuttle talks about the fundamental cultural change that needs to take place in order for us to create a truly peaceful and just world.  He focuses on the plight of cows in industrial agribusiness and connects that with the pharmaceutical-medical complex in what he calls, and what truly is, a poignant riddle.  

We love this article because it focuses on cultural change and asks what is it about our culture that perpetuates violence, abuse, and exploitation?  We at CtD believe that we need to fundamentally change culture to promote the health and well-being of ALL.  We believe that we need to challenge norms, or standards of behavior, that fuel violence and exploitation.  We need to replace these norms with new, healthy, positive norms.  Dr. Tuttle promotes this when he states:

We can free ourselves when we awaken from the cultural food trance and its official story line—that meat and dairy are natural for us to eat—and switch to a plant-based way of eating that frees the animals, ecosystems, and people enslaved by this official story.

What stories have we been told?  What stories do we buy into?  And who profits?


Connectionists Take On Occupy Wall Street

16 Oct

We’ve seen a lot in the online world lately using a connectionist perspective on the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement.  While some literally use the OWS message to represent the plight of non-human animals:

…others write about why the movement should include issues beyond a human-exclusive focus.  This article on One Green Planet, for instance, delineates a 4 clear arguments why food policy should be a part of the OWS movement:

  1. The food industry is a monopoly
  2. The food industry mistreats farmers, its own employees, and the environment
  3. Wall Street leaves millions to starve
  4. Politicians are in bed with agribusiness

Please read and share the article for an explanation of these points as well as several relevant links.

Here at CtD, we hope to encourage, support, and build capacity  to advocate for more connections in movements like these.  Regardless of the strategy, we are thrilled to see a push for a connectionist approach to a very, very popular human-focused social justice movement.  It is through efforts to be inclusive to ALL that we will truly attain a peaceful and just world.

We want to share your writings!

31 Aug

Have you written articles, essays, blog posts, or more from a connectionist perspective?  If so, send us a link!  We are going to be building a list of articles and other readings for our resources page.  So if you’ve written about connections between human, animal, and/or environmental concerns and well-being, let us know!

What are you FOR ?

9 Nov

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.


Earthlings: Connecting the Dots

17 May

A couple of weeks ago I (Ashley) watched the movie, Earthlings.  It was quite the experience.  After viewing the movie, I immediately posted a blog on my personal blog site.  As it clearly comes from a connectionist perspective, I’ve reposted the blog here:

I finally watched Earthlings tonight.  It was absolutely terrifying, horrifying, and sickening.  In fact, those words don’t even come close to the absolutely devastated state in which this movie left me.

People ask, “Ashley, you’re a vegan, you already know that stuff.  You’ve seen tons of these movies.  Why would you watch something you know is going to be horrifying to you?”  Because it’s my privilege not to.  Privilege allows me to sit in comfort ignoring the institutionalized violence that I know is taking place.  I have to watch this stuff because it’s real.  IT’S REAL.  Many of you ask me why I’m vegan, why I’m so staunchly anti-violence in all realms of life.  Here’s why:

THIS IS REAL.  I know from talking to many of you that you too know it’s real.  How can we let it continue?  We know this happens and we choose to ignore it because ignoring it relieves our cognitive dissonance and allows us to continue on in comfort.  This isn’t a problem of awareness.  We’re aware.  So why is it that we still choose behaviors that cause the suffering of so many?  Why are we complicit in the pain and suffering of so many others?  Why are we okay with the violence?

We have to connect the dots.  We have to see how violence in each realm of life manifests, supports, and allows violence in all realms of life.  We know that extreme violence continues and has been institutionalized in the industries that produce our food, fashion, science, entertainment, and more. Yet we choose to behave in ways that feed it.  We choose to throw our money into it.  And we look the other way. Why?

As a professional, I work to eliminate the conditions that allow violence against women to occur.  I consider what we do to nonhuman animals, everyday, thousands and thousands of times each day, as not only a manifestation of those conditions, but as the normalization of violence and lack of body autonomy in our culture that leads directly to sexual assault.  The fact that I’m afraid to say that publicly means a lot.

You ask me why I am the way I am.  This is why.

Watch Earthlings and understand me.

“Three primary life forces exist on this Earth: nature, animals, and humankind.  We are the Earthlings.  Make the connection.”

Soul Food Junkies – Connecting the Dots

8 Mar

Just a quick note to tell you that we are very excited for Bryon Hurt‘s upcoming film, Soul Food Junkies. Check out a fantastic trailer here and become a fan on facebook.

Mr. Hurt is also very, very well-known for his critically acclaimed film Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes.

These films connect a number of dots and we encourage you all to check them out, support them, and share them!