Five Uncivilized Resolutions

Learn the names of the winds
Different winds have different names.  The wind of a particular locale may have a particular character and, in many cases, has been given a name by the people who have known its company.  We have a most intimate relationship with the wind: it swirls in our ears, runs its fingers through our hair, and envelopes the whole of our bodies and yet few of us know the name of the wind where we live.  The indifference we show to the wind as it carries away the sweat from our skin is a significant form of disrespect; knowing someone’s name lets them know that they matter to you at least in some small way.

Look toward the moon
I will recognize and in some way honor each full moon.  The selection of this approximately once a month event is in some ways arbitrary; there is no shortage of natural events that warrant our attention or could serve as a focus for ritual and reflection.  The idea is to select something for closer than usual attention and to honor it, to assert that it is indeed sacred and worth pausing for.  The full moon is unquestionably worth pausing for.

Learn to draw
Only recently  have I taken an interest in learning to draw but I have thus far been quite lax in my efforts and hope to reinvigorate them.  As far as I can tell, from the naïve vantage point that I currently occupy, learning to draw would in many ways be learning to see; to take note of what’s there and record it in some fashion.  It is a means of focusing one’s attention on something and picking out details that might otherwise be missed; perhaps the actual act of drawing is a means to an end, a technique for focusing one’s attention toward a particular object, individual, or landscape and granting it some measure of attention.

Walk and bike greater distances
This is fairly self-explanatory.  Walking and biking are both highly efficient and uniquely enjoyable means of transit.  I am tempted to suggest that bike travel is probably the fastest rate at which humans should be travelling.  It may be objected that we need cars and planes to visit distant loved ones and that much is true for the moment; but we must not forget that it is cars and planes that carried our loved ones away (or carried us away from them as it may be).

Fill in the blanks on this blog
There are some gaps on this blog that I would like to fill in including the About section which is currently blank (as I am only recently coming to discover what the blog is in fact about).  I have also considered putting up a page of book titles and possibly short reviews of titles that I have found particularly compelling and that inform the content of the Uncivilized Animals blog.  Other than that, I hope to continue with my goal of two posts per month.

Okay…that last one hardly qualifies as uncivilized…but no list is perfect.

Five Reasons to Look Up at the Supermoon

Supermoon 2011
On the night of June 22 (and June 23), the moon will be closer and, consequently, appear larger than at any other time in 2013.  That this event coincides with a full moon makes it a “supermoon”.

While this may appear to be a matter of trivia to many who do not have an independent interest in astronomy, I would suggest that those concerned with Animal and Earth Liberation pause and look up.

EarthSky indicates that for “United States’ time zones, the moon will turn full on June 23 at 7:32 a.m. EDT, 6:32 a.m. CDT, 5:32 a.m. MDT and 4:32 a.m. PDT.”

1.       Changing Paradigms

Quite often for strategic reasons Animal and Earth Liberation efforts manifest in a vast number of scattered individual campaigns, single issue pursuits, and one-off events.  There are campaigns focused on bear bile farming, suction dredge mining, mountaintop removal, road building, factory farmed animals, honeybees, wildlife poaching, animal experimentation, climate change, species extinction, nuclear power, noise pollution, light pollution, water pollution, plastic bags, the disposal of e-waste, urban farming…ad infinitum.

To make progress on all of these interwoven issues requires a paradigm change on the part of the general public.  Every person cannot be an expert on every issue but with a change in world view the burden of proof can naturally shift, the questions asked may change, and initial reactions to new assaults on Animals and Earth may swing.  For example, if one held the view that animals are not property, that they are morally different from tables and chairs, then it may not be necessary to mount separate arguments against the existence of zoos, circuses, animal laboratories, and fur farms.  The change of a fundamental belief has far reaching ripple effects.

Asserting the unquantifiable value of being present for natural events such as the supermoon contributes to that paradigm change.  But of course assertions of value are insufficient and by themselves ring hollow, the event must actually be valued.  If it is important that one actually stops to take notice.  Its importance is not simply asserted but rather is revealed in the actions of people.

2.       Shifting Biocentrically

For any of the individual campaigns mentioned above there are often a variety of arguments that advocates might make depending on who they are trying to sway.  If promoting veganism, one might cite medical literature to suggest that it is healthier and contributes to a longer, more productive life.  If promoting habitat preservation for wildlife, one might suggest that wild animals represent a greater economic asset alive than they do dead.  If one is promoting alternative energy sources, the discussion may address issues of efficiency.

Yet these are all explicitly anthropocentric reasons for taking certain action; they play to the presumed prejudices of the person being addressed and avoid the work of shifting paradigms and promoting a different set of values.

A particularly egregious example of this is PETA’s claim that killing chickens via a process known as controlled atmosphere killing (CAK) as opposed to an electrical stunning model would benefit industry by reducing carcass damage and increasing revenue.

3.       Re-joining the Community of Life

The human species is radically alienated from the biotic community—the community of life.  The harm we have caused ourselves and others stems largely from that alienation.  Actions that bring us closer to the natural world and re-introduce us to the others whom we share it with are of the utmost importance.

Joanna Macy says of that while we may treat the earth as “a supply house and a sewer” it is in fact “our larger body”.  Likewise, it is the larger body of other animals, no less important to their well being than claws, wings, teeth, tails, and fins.  This is one reason why animals in zoos so often disappoint; in a very real sense, they are not whole animals.

The moon is obviously not part of the earth but it is definitely part of our world, it is part of the lived experience of residing on earth and in that respect is a commonality between human and many nonhuman animals.

4.       Caring for Self

Activists are notoriously busy.  In the wake of pressing demands, taking time out to look at the moon may seem to be an unwarranted indulgence or as simply unimportant.  But it’s quite the opposite: neither unwarranted nor unimportant.  It is a matter of self-care on par with getting adequate sleep, eating well, and being physically active.

It serves to put things into a healthy perspective and to remind oneself of the purpose of ongoing struggle.  It is not adequate and not healthy to wait until “after the revolution” to linger beneath a full moon, put one’s feet in the water, or let the voices of birds steer one’s thoughts.  The opportunity to do these things—to live—is right now.

5.       Knowing Other Animals

It is impossible to adequately cultivate healthy relations with other animal without knowing the world in which they live.  This includes the cycles of the moon, the change of seasons, geographic features, climatic features, and on and on.  The fact that we are alienated from the natural world means that we often inadvertently harm others.  We fail to anticipate that bright lights that blot out the night sky will cause serious harm to animals.  Until avian bodies accumulate at the base of skyscrapers, we don’t think of how birds will react to these tall glass buildings.  We are even surprised to discover that human produced insecticides might kill insects and that that may not be beneficial.

So take the opportunity to look up at the moon, deliberately lose track of time, and know that not a minute will be wasted.