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Ecological Mindfulness

A Culture Separated from Nature


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By Caleb Jacobo


The United States comes from a long tradition of cultural values that are based on the idea of separation from nature. Nature is evil, something to overcome, to be controlled. So we have separated ourselves from it. Our history of conquering nature brought us to a point now, in America, where we mercilessly and without forethought, engage in willful mass murder of domesticated animals within our borders of control; not for the survival of our people, but for the sustainment of economic powers.

What about cage-free chickens? What about Kobe beef? And other animal products labeled similarly? Lies. They are are simply lies built up through marketing rhetoric to trick the American people into thinking they are purchasing a more humane product. Cage-free chicken means that the giant death house where the chickens are kept in the dark from birth to death, wing to wing, on top of each other, are exposed to sunlight once a day, by opening the barn doors. Kobe beef? Don’t those cows get massages and beer? Well, there is no such thing as Kobe beef in America. Kobe beef comes from a very specific stock of cows in Japan. Everything marked in America as Kobe beef is simply a marketing ploy. Tricks like these and countless others attempt to pacify us in light of the atrocities committed by America every second of every day.

To the Plains Indians, buffalo were the givers of life, food, clothing, shelter, and spiritual understanding. The animal was their brother and a necessary kill so that many could live. The fallen animal was worshipped; every part used. Americans shot them from the comfort and safety of trains. We let their carcasses spoil and rot in the sun. We continue this tradition today, but we have perfected the process. We create factories, where living creatures are measured by the dollar, bred, tortured, murdered, and done in a way so we don’t have to see the carnage beside the railroad tracks any more. But they are still there. 

Animals have always played an integral part of Western culture. The Ancient Greeks performed ritualistic animal sacrifice in order to appease the gods. But the Greeks still understood the cruelty of killing any living creature, and only performed these gruesome acts so that their people might prosper and survive. Indeed, the common Greek only ever ate meat during such rituals, and excluded the flesh of living creatures from their daily diet. This connection and compassion with these animals is personified in the Greek’s comedy of innocence, in which several cows are made to walk in circles around a shrine of food, and the first to reach for the food, and stretch out his neck, was ‘consenting’ to his sacrifice. The sacrifice represented their human blood, the animal is again related, a brother. Now cows represent little more than McDonald's, steak, and cruel American tradition.

Why are we like this? Unfortunately, man (as in males), throughout the centuries, have found ways of subjugating that which threatens them. The same thing happen to women, who were worshipped as the embodiment of the universe when we were agriculturists, until the hunter-gathering cultures that focused on the kill, the strong bodied, and the aggressive. Their religions revolved around the god, not the goddess. These are the same men who wrote the bible, a text that does more to demonize nature than any other text in our history. The bible has man betrayed by the serpent. We are removed from nature, kicked out of Eden; we live in exile of nature. Nature, like the serpent, like the woman, is dangerous, and must be controlled.

What do we do? The first thing we need to do is realize that ‘mom and pop’ farms no longer exist. We need to understand that nature is not the enemy; it should be protected and harmed only as a means to survive. In order for the American people to change, which should be any compassionate soul’s wish, we need to educate our people of the horrors allowed to prosper in our land. We need to actively and immediately protest the killing of cows, chicken, fish, whales, and countless others. These murders are not so we may survive, but so that cruel institutions can turn a buck. We can’t let the ever changing climate of politics and society to get to animal rights when they can. We need to make animal rights matter now.


Caleb Jacobo is an independent writer living in Southern California. He runs the New American Scholar Project, an orginization focused on making great works of literature accessible for everyone.