Dog Versus Wildlife

hunting dog

c1894 Hunting Bird Dog Chasing Rabbit

Endeavors to restore local forests have opened my eyes to Earth’s ultimatum of the day — domesticate or rewild– as shown in this case, the domesticated dog vs wildlife. Urban natural spaces are mostly perceived as places for dogs to be wild and free at best, as dog dump ground at worst. Focusing on true wild life, I see habitat harm in action. Their paws compacting native seedlings and disturbing soil, creating a condition favoring invasive seeds to set and sprout. Their noises, scents, and even just their presence alarming mammals and flushing brush birds, decreasing fauna diversity. Their feces and urine tainting the land and creeks, in the end polluting ocean habitation. Finally, it was their mauling of a forest’s sole remaining fox (see Animal Control Officer’s Report), and reading Lee Hall’s On Their Own Terms: Animal Liberation for the 21st Century, that motivates this essay.

May this serve as a calling to those who love and tend to dogs to reflect on their relationship and refocus concern to nature. Why them? Because they are the ones who tune in with empathy, who do not hesitate when compassion demands action, who sacrifice with eternal loyalty. Those are the qualities needed if a diversity of animal lives is to remain viable, even for entire species to exist. But an expanded mindset does not come easy. There is always a quandary. A barrier to overcome. A predicament. A hard choice that, in this case, is no less than life or death. Here a change in mind begins with a confrontation on the domesticated dog that challenges the core of what it means to be human. To domesticate is to dominate is to master another. No matter how compassionately it’s done, in the end perpetual states of this kind of control have regrettable outcomes. That outcome is approaching.

Accompanying the bloating abundance of domesticated dogs is the burst of businesses heaping ample attention onto them. Lesser but parallel attention is paid to waning wildlife. Where is discussion of domesticated dogs’ effect on wildlife decline? Does this candid conversation topic ring too taboo for mainstream discourse? There are professional studies in professional journals on specific species impacted by dogs, but the degree of overall impact remains unstudied and unknown. Still, a literature review confirms commonsense: human bred pet and feral dogs are degrading and displacing wildlife habitats, including that of their own free relations. (see resources)

While Earth’s ill-health has distended into conventional thought, contributing causes and consequences continue to broaden in scope. Most recent concern is launching into how human food procurement impacts Earth’s ecosystems, particularly animal agriculture. With a breech across the mainstream taboo of criticizing the custom of pets, a study revealed up to 30% of farmed animal ‘products’ are fed to pets in the US. (see Environmental Impact of Food Consumption by Dogs and Cats) While animal agriculture is targeted as the prime culprit, agriculture itself is beginning to come under scrutiny. Hall reminds fellow vegans that all farming displaces wildlife habitats. (p. 65)

The ‘dog in the family’ lifeway leading to ‘dog in the park’ conflicts is the ‘canary in the mine’. Domesticating animals serves as a litmus test on our aptitude to end our reign of destruction if not even to save ourselves. If we cannot reverse our ‘dominion over wild’ mindset, we are doomed to dominate bioregions across Earth to death.

Domesticated Human Mindset on its Domesticated Dog Continue reading

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3 cases for indigenous veganism

Vegan Primitivist

 

Writings by feminist scholar Margaret Robinson describe Mi’kmaq legends and their relationship with animals as was one of dependence, not dominion. According to Mi’kmaq legends, human beings are intimately connected with the animal world and only survival can justify the killing of animals. These legends depict animals as having an independent life, with their own purpose, far away from simply existing for human consumption. Robinson contrasts this with the white hunter, whose view of animals requires population control, turning slaughter into a service. Many of the Mi’kmaq legends come with their own set of problems, such as the gendering of food production. Even the Mi’kmaq word for food is the same for beaver, embodying the meat-heavy food culture. However, within the legends the nonhuman animals are always characterized as independent peoples who have rights, wills and freedoms. As Robinson rightly points out, “if animal consent is required to…

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What Native Americans ate. Actually.

“This emphasis on “hunter” for earlier humans is chosen by the mainly male meat-eating anthropologists whose views are unconsciously filtered by their own culturally-imposed meat-eating behavior, and the deep discomfort it inevitably causes. We will and must go to great lengths to justify violent behavior, and this is an example of this.”

What Did American Indians Eat, Actually?

…She told us that she is herself descended from the Monacan Indians, and that her people had traditionally set up and stayed in villages such as this one for several years, and that they would then would move to a slightly different location in the same general area, and did this repeatedly because they would gradually exhaust the local resources. I asked if she was referring to the animals who were hunted and fished, and she said no, that meat and fish accounted for less than two percent of their food. Virtually all their nutritional needs – 96 percent – came from acorns, together with nuts, berries, roots, seeds, leaves, shoots, and other plant foods that they gathered.

From what I have learned, the Monacan Indians were pretty typical of the people living here in North America before the Europeans came. Indians’ diets were overwhelmingly plant-based, as in the case of the Monacans, according to this docent, 98 percent. And yet, ironically, all the school kids visiting the Monacan Living History Village got the impression from the male docent that they subsisted primarily on meat and fish. They left the Monacan Village with a completely different message than we got, one that would reinforce their acceptance of the foods in their school lunch programs and at the local fast food restaurants, and it was in many ways forced onto them by exploiting their trust and innocence. Of course the male docent was in no way consciously exploiting the children, but was part of a process that happens inexorably—the replication of culture.

What I continue to discover is how far from reality are many of the “official stories” that we tell ourselves and teach our children. They are stories that serve a specific purpose, which is to justify the existing order, and they are passed on effortlessly and subconsciously, because they make us all comfortable in believing, in this case, that our current practice of enslaving and slaughtering huge numbers of animals for food (75 million daily in the U.S. alone) is somehow a normal and natural expression of who we are as human beings. It is no accident that we term native cultures “hunter-gatherers.”

This emphasis on “hunter” for earlier humans is chosen by the mainly male meat-eating anthropologists whose views are unconsciously filtered by their own culturally-imposed meat-eating behavior, and the deep discomfort it inevitably causes. We will and must go to great lengths to justify violent behavior, and this is an example of this.

It is long past time to question these official stories, and to create new stories that more accurately reflect the fact that plant-based foods provide us all that we need to thrive on this Earth and celebrate our lives here with wisdom and compassion. The animals of this Earth, the oceans, rivers, and ecosystems, hungry people, slaughterhouse workers, and the future generations of all living beings are certainly yearning for the day when we awaken from the indoctrinated delusions that we need meat and dairy to get adequate protein and calcium, and that the world and nonhuman animals were put here for us to use.

We are not separate from this world and from the precious web of life here. Eating the products of enslaved and murdered animals forces us to forget this, but at any moment we can question the official stories, remember the truth, and become a force for healing, peace, joy, freedom, and health for all. The ancient Lakota prayer, Mitakuye Oyasin – “All my relations” or “All are related” – reflects this fundamental human wisdom of our essential interconnectedness that is repressed by the corporate diet of death and denial.
The wisdom of the Monacan people can inspire us today if we listen deeply within and question everything.

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/lifestyle/what-did-american-indians-eat-actually/

Rebel Hell!

rebel hell imageIn Rebel Hell: Disabled Vegan Goes to Prison, A Memoir, Jan Smitowicz offers ‘Dear Readers’ a deeply honest, intimate, detailed, first-person portrayal of his two-year prison bit. This is so overarchingly the case, there’s no other way I could have started this ‘review’. I usually don’t get so personal in my book reviews, but Jan’s unchained creativity with literary devices & comic cunning inspires me to explore & expand my writing boundaries. Ya see, much of his philosophies, dreams, and lifeways reminds me of my own ten years back. So as his ‘now voice’ went back to chat with his ‘then voice’, my ‘reader voice’ engaged in a one-way conversation with them both. I’ve never chatted & chortled & cheered with a book this much. Jan’s story, especially the ‘prison plot line’, has a one-of-a-kind specialness to it that stole my heart, and my life for a ‘bit’. I had to clarify which ‘line’ because there are numerous intertwined lines performing a nimble dance. An example, his ‘identity line’: he recaps and reasons a litany of standpoints, writers and past experiences, weaving them through happenings in his forced subculture context. {Here I debated: subculture, culture, subsubculture – finally opting to erase one ‘sub’ considering the enormous number of beings baselessly behind brutalizing bars.} His ‘identity line’ harmonically two-steps with his ‘philosophy line’, enlightening the reader on the analytic grounds justifying the essence of who he chooses to be.

I keep wondering, who is the audience here? It isn’t until after I read the final sentence that I realize – there is no intended audience. The making of this tome was his therapy, his medicine, the crux of his coping while he planned out the book as he lived it, and part of his post-release healing in writing it up. But instead of burying it in a secret spot to protect any vulnerabilities mainstreamers would ploy and pounce upon, Jan’s emotionally strong enough to share it with whomever in hopes that it might ripple into better humans and a better world. This memoir is a sword striking at structures of power affecting him and all. This leads me to ponder his vision, on which the foundation he might be building I rowdily bicker.

Anyone who reads Rebel Hell is no doubt going to bicker with Jan, each on our own preferred topics, which is a great exercise in critical thinking. See Socrates: The unexamined life is not worth living. As for my preferred topics, well let me first fess up my lens. I identify as a vegan anarcho-primitivist. Here’s a sampling of how I wrangled with Jan: You’re an anarchist who wants to smash the system and “build” something anew on top of its ashes. Yeah, it’d break too far from your focus, but I long for more on what you want humans to ‘build’? Oh, how I howled to know. For example, do you merely prefer a green lifeway with reduced human population, vegan agriculture, rescuing and loving ‘companion animals’, etc.? Do you believe humans have a rightful dominating place in the world to say, shuffle species (animal, plant, etc.) wherever we prefer, or breed them into what we crave, essentially attaching our affection and/or control at the center of landscaping Earth? Are you anti-agriculture? Is your vision a softer human supremacy (that slows to a gentler creep toward human-caused ecosystem collapse, imo), or a world of wildlife (including humans. human wildlife.) in thriving natural communities and habitats (wild human habitat range limits included)? As early Jensen elucidates on the definition of civilization, the moment a human clan has a lifeway other than self-sustaining, they become an exploiter, a dominator who invades Earth. Are you anti-civ, and how do you define it? Have you explored the depth of your wilderness awareness? Do you have an instinct to rewilding yourself, to manifest your animal self? Forage from plants and mushrooms?

I’m also a restoration ecologist forest steward who sees, deals with and cries over encroachments and impacts of not only humans, but their extensions, dogs and cats, on wild life and wild places. When a dog runs through the forest, do you see the impact of its sound, scent, presence and energy on wild animals and their habitat? Akin to antinatalism, we’re at the point where you’re either pro-pet or pro-wildlife, no squirming out of it. Hard choice for domesticated companion lovers, and hard to sell in a pet-mania culture. On & on my one-way dialogue went with Jan’s written words. No matter your answers to my wild questions, thanks Jan for inspiring me to remember where I came from, to remind me of why I do what I do, and that life fluctuates, be humble, embrace change. I sense Earth calling writers and all to signal a return and giving back to Earth.

The coolest thing about Rebel Hell is the scope of strata via shifts in style. Jan takes you from raw antics in sordid or sexual or asinine prison subsubculture (indeed, subsub), to higher forms of philosophical contemplation. This brings us back to the question of audience. Firstly, this is required reading for anyone involved in the prison-industrial-complex in any way, on every side of the power spectrum, and not just reformists, but abolitionists, and specially prisoners [sic]. Vegans of all stripes, especially those who question or support animal rights activism. People with disabilities, particularly unseen disabilities, will take solace in struggles to cope with operose plights. Anarchists and pre-anarchists (you know who you are – flirting with an identity is fun, but action takes you all the way). Speaking of flirting, all those who are flirting with hazy boundaries of today’s marijuana laws, who too often choose not to look too closely at exactly what you’re risking, heed this lesson from what they did to Jan, at least so you make your choices clearly knowing your risks, to get out while the getting’s good, or to clamp down on vigilance in your protection strategies.

Jan, I’m profoundly moved that you shared your ordeal. How strong-minded and big-hearted to open your life this way. May your good intentions come to fruition, giving humans and all beings a better life. You’re such an avid reader, I’d like to offer you a customized list of entertaining book recommendations: Lee Hall’s On Their Own Terms: Animal Liberation for the 21st Century, Yi-Fu Tuan’s Dominance & Affection: The Making of Pets, Jim Mason’s An Unnatural Order: Uncovering the Roots of Our Domination of Nature and Each Other, John Livingston’s Rogue Primate: An Exploration of Human Domestication, John Zerzan’s Future Primitive, and Douglas W. Tallamy’s Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants. Now I’m adding Rebel Hell to my ‘highly recommend’ book list. Much gratitude for inviting us along on your bodily and cerebral escapade into the depths of hell… I mean civilization’s bureaucratic terrorism. It serves as inspiration to resist, rise & smash!

Why there is ‘no proof’ of bisexual cavewomen, homosexual cavemen, and vegan cavepeople:

Feminist Primitivism

polyScientific narratives that accompany scientific ‘facts’ are processed and molded through cultural values, as reflected in the popularized caveman story. To study your subliminal attachment to the story, monitor your reaction to another narrative: The clitoris is located outside the vagina to encourage female bonding with all others as a survival strategy, and to discourage vaginal sex and frequent impregnation to limit population and thereby decrease competition for scarce resources. Homosexuality is an evolutionary adaptation to reduce humans damaging their habitat through overpopulation. Likewise, instinctive disgust for hunting and eating animal flesh is an adaptation to maintain habitats with high species homeostasis, symbiosis and diversity.

Polyamorous cavewomen, homosexual cavemen and vegan cavepeople can have evolutionary narratives as plausible as the monogamous cavewomen, heterosexual caveman and meat eating cavepeople. Mainstream and marginalized evolutionary narratives are value-laden. But being that alternative narratives are silenced, scorned and sternly denied before considered, even if…

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