Let’s Turn Off The News And Focus On Solving Our Problems

So now, we’re being told that we need to pay attention to the fight over whether an interpreter should testify about whether the president is lying or not…

Our species is made up of around 99% of individuals who are intentionally committing unnecessary violence against nonhumans on a daily basis. More than half of those people -probably much, much more- are intentionally or unintentionally committing overt acts of sexism/misogyny/cis-sexism and probably around the same number for racism and various kinds of homophobia/other discrimination based on sexual orientation. Those stats probably equal out -or come pretty close to it- for ableism, ageism, and many other less-talked-about forms of discrimination. This is not even taking into account all the people who merely benefit passively from those forms of oppression.

In a just world, our government would be educating us against such discrimination by focusing our attention on what each of us is doing wrong -including the members of our government- and explaining what they are doing to eliminate their own oppressive behaviors and how we could also try to do this ourselves. That is because this is the only way to solve any of the systemic problems that most of us keep wondering about how to solve. They would be doing this for each of us from the moment we entered public school, if not sooner.

In reality, instead of doing this, our government uses our mainstream news media outlets to pull our attention away from those things that are the root problems that we could easily change to stop our systemic problems and puts that focus directly onto the superficial symptoms of those systemic problems. They do this so that we’ll spend all of our precious time thinking that the symptoms *are* the problems and arguing about those symptoms instead of addressing our own complicity in the problems. This has the (intentional) result of actually *encouraging* many of the forms of oppression that we’re complicit in.

To give just a few of many, many examples:

Racism:
We have a huge problem with racism in our world. One of the ways in which this manifests itself is that white police officers sometimes murder black people. Then, an anti-racist group says “black lives matter.” So then cue a group of white people arguing with the first group, saying “blue lives matter.” And then a third group, saying “all lives matter.” People from all 3 groups argue, people from all 3 groups protest, people from Black Lives Matter get arrested, etc. etc. The mainstream news media covers all of this, and the people watching the news argue on and on about whether black lives or blue lives or all lives matter more.

Ever notice the mainstream news media never actually has any programming on about what racism really is and how those of us with white privilege could actually eliminate most of the racism from our world by simply taking the time to identify specific kinds of ideas and actions that are racist and making an effort to repudiate those ideas and actions every single time we encounter them in ourselves and others? All of the leaders in our government actually want us to perpetuate racism, since they stand to benefit most from that, so there’s no way they would let the media report on that.

Gun Violence:
Violence in general is one of the roots of most of the problems in our world. One of the ways in which this manifests itself is that sometimes a person takes guns and shoots a bunch of people in a school. Then one group of people starts saying “we need to ban _____ kind of guns” or “we need to make people wait ____ number of days to get a gun” or “we need to check their background before we allow them to have a gun” and another group says “no, it’s the opposite, we need to give more people more guns” and the mainstream news media covers this, so many groups of people who are watching argue on and on about what kind of guns are acceptable or not acceptable for random people to own and how many days we should have to wait to own those guns. In essence we are arguing about not only whether gun control laws reduce the amount of violence in the world but also whether it’s morally justifiable to enact such laws in the first place.

And the mainstream news media intersperses their stories on this issue with stories on how we need to “support our troops.” Even those people who are anti-standing-military or anti-violence need to support our troops, right? I mean, we should divorce the fact that those troops are being used by the government to inflict violence on innocent people and support the actual troops, because the actual people who are the troops are “good people,” so we need to support them *as* troops, right? That isn’t any kind of conflict with our stance against violence, is it?

Ever notice the mainstream news media never actually has any programming on about why violence in and of itself is wrong and how those of us who consume violent programming -and espouse the idea that responding to violence with violence is productive- could actually eliminate most of the violence from our world by resolving to disavow violence in all of it’s forms? Programming about how it’s not our laws about guns that are going to precipitate any truly meaningful change when society itself is saturated with a love of violence that gun violence is only one symptom of? All of the leaders in our government actually want us to perpetuate violence, since they stand to benefit most from that, so there’s no way they would let the media report on that.

Non-Veganism:
Human Supremacy is the root cause of pretty much every problem in the world. One of the ways that this manifests itself is that almost all the humans on the planet are currently enslaving and/or slaughtering over ONE TRILLION (that’s 1,000,000,000,000) nonhuman animals EVERY YEAR purely for the interest of palate pleasure. Almost everyone, including our government, thinks that “cruelty to animals” is a problem, so we argue and argue about which welfare reforms to implement to decrease the amount of  cruelty we engage in regarding our use of animals. The mainstream news media has numerous programming about this issue, not to mention all of the other shows about it, including fiction, documentaries, you name it. We keep watching and keep arguing about those welfare reforms, and wringing our hands at all the “cruelty,” and meanwhile we take a break from that to sit down and eat “our” bacon and “our” eggs and drink “our” milk while wearing “our” leather and wool and watching a show about which breeds of “our” dogs are the the best.

Ever notice the mainstream news media never actually has any programming on about the fact that just the mere action of using nonhumans against their will is inherently cruel, and that we could easily eliminate the majority of this problem of “cruelty to animals” simply by living Vegan and educating as many people as we can about why they also need to live Vegan? All of the leaders in our government actually wants us to perpetuate human supremacy, since they stand to benefit most from that, so there’s no way they would let the media report on that. In order to perpetuate the human supremacist paradigm they need to perpetuate the paradigm of welfarism, so the benefits of welfarism are the only thing they can allow the media to report on.

Two-Party System False Dichotomy:
We are told in the USA that we need to pick between Republican and Democrat or nothing will ever get done. Supposedly, the Republicans are the conservatives who want to oppress everyone by keeping our world the same as it was in “the olden days” and the Democrats are the liberals who want everyone to be sexual deviants and foreigners to come here and take over. So the mainstream news media covers only those 2 parties and the people watching argue about whether it’s better to be a Republican conservative or Democratic liberal and pretty soon we have a president who is sexist and racist and ableist and the list goes on and on.

And the people who are arguing about which of 2 parties is better are told that now they should argue about whether Russia is hacking us (flash info!: many other countries are also hacking us, Russia is just the target of a new cold-war-mongering campaign) or whether our President wears a toupee and now we have to argue about whether his translator is going to testify or not.

Ever notice the mainstream news media never actually has any programming on about the fact that the people who make up the leadership of both the Democratic party and the Republican party are just identical sides of the same two-headed coin, all of whom abuse whatever power they acquire as soon as they acquire it, who are all in bed with Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Animal Ag, and all the other corporations that seek to enslave us; programming about how we could ignore all of the stuff about Republicans and Democrats and actually solve the problems we have with our elected officials by refusing to vote for people from either of those parties; by finding people who belong to other political parties to vote for instead, as well as writing in candidates who belong to no political party at all? All of the leaders in our government want us to keep believing that we have only 2 options, because that is the only way they can keep us voting for someone who belongs to the power elite, so there’s no way they would let the media report on that.

The Point:
So the point to all of this, in case you haven’t noticed yet, is that it’s very easy to grab our attention and redirect it away from the real problems that we’re facing, which are problems of OUR making. They’re problems that were almost always created by each one of US at some point in our lives. Or at the very least, they’re problems that we each need to focus on avoiding participating in at every turn. When our focus is redirected away from the root problem and onto some idea about something trivial like whether the president is lying and why that makes him the real problem we need to address (of course he *always* lies, and he’s not the real problem, he’s just another symptom of the real problem), then it keeps us from looking hard at our own problematic actions and how we can deal with those.

When we focus on whether black lives matter or blue lives matter; whether guns should be more prevalent or be banned; whether the latest victim who speaks out in the #metoo movement is lying or not (rather than focusing on why sexism and the patriarchy are bad and how to eliminate them) *as if those are the root problems*, what almost always happens is that we end up creating a false dichotomy where we are the “good person” and the other people are all “bad people” because we think they’re all racists, sexists, homophobes, or some other kind of human supremacist, all the while forgetting that even though we may not overtly engage in some specific racist behavior, if we’re not a victim of racism then we most assuredly still benefit from racism in some way. Just like if we’re not a victim of the patriarchy, then we most likely benefit from sexism in some way. Even if that is something that we don’t want to happen. And the same can be said for all other forms of oppression. And this false dichotomy we create makes it very easy to keep all of us -both “conservative straight white male” and “liberal queer black female” alike- grinding along as mere gear-slaves in the giant machine that’s being controlled by a very small percent of people who have no interest at all in the well-being of anyone but themselves. The primary tool used to refocus our attention in this way is what we call the mainstream media. “The News,” in other words.

That’s not the only way that The News keeps us enslaved though. Another tactic they use is reporting on a preponderance of negative stories compared to the tiny fraction of positive ones. And when they do report on a positive story, it almost always is something that supports the overall false narrative they’ve concocted about what issues are the main problems that we need to focus on, or at least doesn’t actually contradict that narrative. This also has the effect of keeping us perpetually depressed or at least drowning in negative thought, and someone who constantly feels bad about the world is extremely unlikely to attempt to effect any changes in it.

What Can We Do About All This Though?:
The solution to this (the first step of it anyway) is to turn off The News. It’s full of lies, and watching it has actually been shown to make us less intelligent (The opening remarks about sugar in the preceding link are off the mark, but that is neither here nor there), not to mention less willing to make any positive changes. If we want to be informed, we need to find alternative news outlets, if we’re going to watch any “news” at all. And another step is to learn what critical thinking actually means and why we need to do that and read some actual science or other such facts instead of just believing whatever someone tells us, just because a bunch of other people are telling us that that person is an authority on that subject. These are not the only steps we need to take, but just taking those steps would at least put us well on the path to figuring out how to obtain a lot more of the truth than we’re currently getting. Something that we could substitute for watching The Mainstream News is to actually go out in public and find a person who is oppressed by the systemic power structures I’ve mentioned and ask them what they feel may be a solution to the problem.

As always, I’m going to leave you with the idea that another huge step is to think about whether nonhuman animals are mere things for us to use for our trivial interests, or whether we think that they are part of our moral community and should be respected, which means we shouldn’t be using them for our interests as much as we can help it.

If you want to find more information on these issues, here are some sources I would suggest you start with:

https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2015/02/07/are-humans-superior (my piece on why eliminating systemic nonhuman rights violations will also incidentally eliminate most systemic human rights violations).

http://www.vegantrove.com/2016/12/01/vegan-trove-0046 (this blog is filled with great links to alternative news sources that present progressive takes on human rights issues).

If you’re not already Vegan, and you think animals matter morally, then please go Vegan. It’s incredible for the animals, easy and great for you, and wonderful for the planet. If you’re already Vegan, please educate non-Vegans about why they should go Vegan. Please rescue, volunteer, adopt, foster, spay, and neuter the nonhuman refugees of domestication whenever you can. Please feed your nonhuman family Vegan where you can. These things are the most important, morally responsible things to do and are desperately needed by everyone.

To learn more about Abolitionist Veganism and the issues I’ve outlined in this post, check out The Master List Of Vegan Info:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/master-list-of-vegan-info

Disclaimer: My only goal with this list is to produce as comprehensive a resource for Vegan information as possible. I am 100% Abolitionist Vegan and 100% against exploitation of nonhuman or human animals, any type of violence against human or nonhuman persons or property, welfare regulation, any form of speciesism, ethnic bigotry, genderism, ableism, cis-sexism, etc., any of the large governmental or non-governmental nonhuman animal organizations, “happy meat,” vegetarianism, veg*nism, Meat-Free Mondays, or other forms of reductionism and anything else that makes it seem like any form of violence or exploitation of animals is ok. If any of those positions are endorsed on any site in this list, or any language is used to imply that, it’s not that I included that link because I agree, but simply because I don’t control every bit of information on all of these sites.

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On Morality: The Argument For Abolitionist Veganism

Veganism 01

Here is the basic argument for Abolitionist Veganism. I’ve incorporated a couple different major Animal Rights theories into one:

1. Nonhuman animals feel pain, pleasure, fear and other sensations. If they feel these sensations, then they have an interest in not being used merely as a resource for human pleasure, amusement, or convenience.

2. There is no necessity for human animals to intentionally exploit nonhuman animals and cause them to suffer or die except our own enjoyment of the taste of their flesh/secretions and the convenience that animal exploitation affords us. Humans have no dietary need for flesh, dairy, eggs or honey:

https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/06/15/do-doctors-think

We have no need to use animals for clothing; we have no need to use them for entertainment; not only is it morally unjustifiable to use animals in bio-medical research, but more humans suffer and/or die when we do so than if we didn’t use animals at all:

http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/vivisection-part-one-the-necessity-of-vivisection

http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/vivisection-part-two-the-moral-justification-of-vivisection

3. When something is unnecessary except for our trivial pleasure or convenience and that thing causes some being (for example, a nonhuman or human animal) to experience pain, fear or other kinds of suffering, then the harm being done to that being’s interest in their continued survival, freedoms, or not suffering is more important than our interest in our own mere pleasure, amusement or convenience.

4. We claim to believe in “fairness/ethical/moral consistency” as a “moral good”, which means we believe in treating similar cases similarly when it comes to ethics/morality. In other words, if we believe it’s wrong to beat a human child for no good reason because they will suffer from a beating, then we should also believe that it’s wrong to beat a dog, cow, or chicken for no good reason because the nonhuman will also suffer.

So, if we value moral consistency at all, which means we treat similar cases similarly, the minimum and only criteria needed to include nonhuman animals in our moral sphere (meaning we believe we should not harm them at all for no good reason) is that they feel pain, fear, and other sensations, since that is the minimum criteria we use to include humans in our moral sphere.

5. Any characteristic that humans claim to have that we claim makes us morally superior to nonhuman animals cannot be factually proven to be a humans-only trait. Unless we can prove that we are morally superior to nonhuman animals, any argument that we claim justifies intentionally harming and exploiting nonhumans can also be used to justify humans intentionally exploiting other humans:

https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2015/02/07/are-humans-superior

This means that if we personally are in favor of violating nonhumans’ right to be safe from being enslaved, raped, tortured or killed by humans then we have no claim that we ourselves should be safe from having those same things done to us by other humans. Any argument we try to use to justify harm to nonhumans can also be used successfully by other humans to justify harming us in those same ways.

6. If we accept premises 1 through 4, our ethical/moral obligation is to either a) cease any actions that intentionally cause unnecessary suffering and death to other beings such as nonhuman and human animals, in which case we can claim that our interests in avoiding the same harms should not be dismissed without due consideration, and we can point to the fact that this is because we are morally consistent, or b) admit that we are not morally consistent and that any human who wishes to dismiss our interests in avoiding the same harms without due consideration is also morally justified in doing so.

Conclusion: If we don’t stop intentionally exploiting nonhumans to the best of our ability, all the systemic violations we consider atrocities and major problems in the world will never end. We also will not be able to consider ourselves truly morally consistent people. To stop intentionally exploiting nonhumans completely means Abolitionist Veganism.

Abolitionist Veganism also means we do our best to eliminate speciesism (which is the intentional, harmful discrimination by humans against individuals and groups of other species based solely on the morally irrelevant criteria of species membership) within each of us. Speciesism is the tree from which springs all intentional, harmful discrimination against any individual (nonhuman or human) on the basis of any morally irrelevant criteria. Speciesism is rooted in the myth that human animals are morally superior to nonhuman animals.

Ergo, if everyone becomes an Abolitionist Vegan and exclusively advocates a 100% clear moral baseline of Abolitionist Veganism, all of the atrocities we abhor such as world hunger, poverty, ecological destruction by humans, systemic human rights violations, and discrimination against any individual beings based on any morally irrelevant criteria, will either be severely decreased or eliminated. Every living being on the planet, from nonhuman animals to human animals, will be much happier and healthier.

The crucial point here is that if you have moral concern at all for nonhuman animals or human animals and so you want these problems to be decreased or eliminated, it makes no sense for you to participate in actions that will increase or foster those problems. It is your moral responsibility to stop engaging in actions that increase those harms, which means going Vegan (and, if you want to help everyone further, educating others about Veganism).

Final thoughts: If you’re not already Vegan, and you think animals matter morally, then please go Vegan. It’s incredible for the animals, great for you, and wonderful for the planet. If you’re already Vegan, please educate non-Vegans about why they should go Vegan. Please rescue/volunteer/adopt/foster/spay/neuter the nonhuman refugees of domestication whenever you can. Please feed your nonhuman family Vegan where and when you can. These things are the most important, morally responsible things to do and are desperately needed by everyone.

Disclaimer: My only goal with this list is to produce as comprehensive a resource for Vegan information as possible. I am 100% Abolitionist Vegan and 100% against exploitation of nonhuman or human animals, any type of violence against human or nonhuman persons or property, welfare regulation, any form of speciesism, ethnic bigotry, genderism, ableism, heterosexism, etc., any of the large governmental or non-governmental nonhuman animal organizations, “happy meat,” vegetarianism, veg*nism, Meat-Free Mondays, or other forms of reductionism and anything else that makes it seem like any form of violence or exploitation of animals is ok. If any of those positions are endorsed on any site in this list, or any language is used to imply that, it’s not that I included that link because I agree, but simply because I don’t control every bit of information on all of these sites.

On Morality: Veganism Is Anti-Speciesism

Veganism should be, above and beyond anything else, a categorical rejection of speciesism and the myth of human moral superiority.

Humans are sentient beings; we are beings who possess sentience as a trait. Sentience is “the ability to feel, perceive, or to experience subjective perceptual experiences.” Sentience is not “the ability to think similarly to a human” nor is it some trait dealing with “intelligence” at all. It’s simply the ability to feel anything. Pain, pleasure, fear, or any other sensation. If you can feel any of these things, you’re sentient; you don’t need to fulfill any other criteria.

The reason many people think that other humans should not unnecessarily be made to suffer or be killed is because almost all humans also possess the ability to feel empathy. When we feel empathy, it’s because we think that we understand the way another sentient being feels, as we imagine we would feel the same way if we were in their situation. Because of this, we think that we should observe the inherent rights of other humans. A “right” is merely a term we use to mean a rule we abide by in order to protect a commonly shared interest, which in this case deals with not being made to experience an undue amount of suffering. Some of these rights are affirmative rights -rights to perform some favorable actions- like the right to drive a car; the right to vote; the right to go to school, etc.

However, there is another kind of rights that humans have that we think we should observe: negative rights. These are the rights to not have some type of unfavorable action performed on us. Chief among these rights is the right to not be used by other humans exclusively as a resource for their pleasure, amusement, or convenience.

Now, assuming we believe in these basic rights for other humans, a combination of empathy and logic dictates that observing their rights is what we consider “moral justice.” This means that, all other things being equal, we believe in treating similar cases similarly when morality is concerned. If one human isn’t as cognitively aware as another human – for instance: an infant, or a severely mentally disabled adult – that doesn’t mean that it would be morally justifiable for us to then exploit or kill that human for our own interests; for example, to use them for forced organ donation or involuntary bio-medical experiments.

Our sense of empathy tells us that because they feel the same pain and other sensations we do, that it would be immoral to exploit them simply because they are vulnerable and we are powerful, and we possess some non-sentience trait that they don’t. We understand that if our roles were reversed, and we were in the position that they are and they possessed some physical or mental trait that we lacked, that we would not want them to exploit or kill us in the same way.

Morally speaking, it follows logically again -if we believe in treating similar cases similarly- that when we talk about nonhuman animals and the rights which they may have, the characteristic which is relevant in deciding which beings we’re morally justified or not justified in harming is sentience, and only sentience. If we believe in moral justice because we have empathy, and we believe that humans have the right to not be used exclusively as a resource for other humans pleasure, amusement or convenience, it’s because humans are sentient beings. Then -because both human and nonhuman animals are sentient beings, at the very least– by our own code of moral justice we should observe that very same right of any other sentient being, regardless of species membership.

The fact that we don’t observe the injustice and hypocrisy in our lack of matching our actions to our beliefs in this way is due to a phenomenon called speciesism. Speciesism is best defined as “An unjust double standard by humans that places higher moral value on individual members or groups of members of some species over those of some other species, based solely on the morally irrelevant criteria of species membership.”

Speciesism is based on the myth of human superiority. The idea that human animals are superior to other species of animals is based on arbitrary irrational criteria or biased personal opinion, and not objective fact. The Myth Of Human Moral Supremacy is the root of the tree from which all human and nonhuman rights issues sprang; speciesism is akin to the trunk of that tree, with each individual human and nonhuman rights issue acting as the branches of the tree.

The idea that we can treat individual members of another species differently because of moral distinctions that are based solely on a trait that we possess that they lack (their being of a different species than ours) is exactly what has led to the idea that we can do the same thing to people of other ethnicities, people of other genders, people with different sexual orientations, etc.; all of which are merely morally irrelevant traits that they possess that we may not.

Even though some people claim that the trait they are using as moral criteria is not species but some other characteristic which only humans possess (such as “intelligence”), invariably those traits cannot be proven to belong only to all members of our species and no members of another. The true basis for the irrational belief in this supremacy complex can always be ultimately traced back to the criteria of species. And just like species membership, the possession of – or lack of – none of those traits morally justifies using other sentient beings solely as a means to our ends.

Furthermore, being able to dismiss another sentient being as an “other” or a thing to be used or otherwise harmed – rather than another sentient being who is similar to us in their sentience – is what leads to 100% of “crime,” poverty, war, and any other systemic problems associated with human rights violations.

Logically, it follows that if we don’t observe nonhuman animals’ rights in this respect, we have no basis to expect our own moral interests be taken seriously by other humans. No matter from which angle to view it, you can’t really justify intentionally exploiting nonhumans unless you’re ready to accede to not believing in the rights of human animals either, which means your own claim to any moral recourse if you are harmed by another human is effectively nullified.

There is only one way to align our actions with our moral values if we think it’s wrong to harm others for unnecessary reasons, and that is to live Vegan. If we think we have a moral responsibility to then do something for the billions of nonhuman animals who we enslave and otherwise cause to suffer unnecessarily every year then the only morally justifiable and effective way to do that is to educate others about Veganism.

Speciesism 01a

If you’re not already Vegan, and you think animals matter morally, then please go Vegan. It’s easy and great for you, incredible for the animals, and wonderful for the planet. If you’re already Vegan, please educate non-Vegans about why they should go Vegan. Please rescue, volunteer, adopt, foster, spay, and neuter the nonhuman refugees of domestication whenever you can. Please feed your nonhuman family Vegan where you can. These things are the most important, morally responsible things to do and are desperately needed by everyone.

To learn more about Abolitionist Veganism and the issues I’ve outlined in this post, check out The Master List Of Vegan Info:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/master-list-of-vegan-info

Disclaimer: My only goal with this list is to produce as comprehensive a resource for Vegan information as possible. I am 100% Abolitionist Vegan and 100% against exploitation of nonhuman or human animals, any type of violence against human or nonhuman persons or property, welfare regulation, any form of speciesism, ethnic bigotry, genderism, ableism, heterosexism, etc., any of the large governmental or non-governmental nonhuman animal organizations, “happy meat,” vegetarianism, veg*nism, Meat-Free Mondays, or other forms of reductionism and anything else that makes it seem like any form of violence or exploitation of animals is ok. If any of those positions are endorsed on any site in this list, or any language is used to imply that, it’s not that I included that link because I agree, but simply because I don’t control every bit of information on all of these sites.