Caleb Jacobo
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Sunday 6 January 2013
We need to understand that nature is not the enemy; it should be protected and harmed only as a means to survive.

A Culture Separated from Nature

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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.



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ABOUT Caleb Jacobo

Caleb Jacobo is an independent writer living in Southern California. He runs the New American Scholar Project, an organization focused on making great works of literature accessible for everyone. You can find out more about Caleb at his blog at calebjacobo.com. You can find out more about the New American Scholar Project here thenasproject.org.

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13 comments on "A Culture Separated from Nature"

JoeWeinstein

January 06, 2013 7:21pm

As a rationalist vegan, I have no need for breezy or uninformed falsehoods - both those in the article itself ('mom and pop farms no longer exist') and those by commenters (' humans need to eat meat for proper nutrition'). The article misses a major reason, profoundly both ethical and rational, to be vegan: to preserve and enable both human and animal life. Contra implication of commenter Frigate, by directly eating plants rather than animals - which in turn need to eat plants (or each other) - we humans reduce our impact on both plant and animal resources, and do the best we can for wildlife and wild places. If all folks substituted soy for meat of soy-fed cows, we would actually need less land given over to soy production. So, go vegan to save humans, animals, rainforests, and everything else.

wildthang

January 06, 2013 6:37pm

And of course we trat oursleves the same way as object to derive profits form. Th morlaity of separateness and the insittutionalization of war all across wester society. I have even read of assembly lines where no extra restroom breaks are allowed, you must wet yourself as you continue working the lines.
It is the resoult of the invidual freedom and independence ethis and the worship of survival of the fittest form keeping our predatory gene pool alive versus an interdependant global systems theory of all life on Earth and our place within it where the good of the whole depends on the good of the parts and the the good of the parts depends on the good of the whole system.

CASnyder

January 06, 2013 5:52pm

Cedar Cat, while I appreciate your Goddess imagery and sharing of Womyn's wisdom, I disagree that the eating of meat is necessary to prevent death. Certainly we must have adequate B-12 intake to live, and almost all the sources of readily absorbable B-12 are from animals. Certainly there are respectful ways of raising animals for dairy, eggs, and even of killing them for meat so that we, too, can live, and I agree that we need to return to those ways. My husband has lived the last 35 years of his life without eating meat, and its been 15 years for me (I'm 14 years younger). Some of those years we were vegan, but we see nothing wrong with people who hunt or do small scale meat or diary operations where the animals can be supported by pasture, for it is better that people who eat meat do so by having a direct connection to the lives and deaths of the animals, just as it is good to eat plant grown from land you can at least visit regularly. Having that direct connection with local food makes you appreciate what all goes into your food, and the lives that sustain you.

frigate

January 06, 2013 2:41pm

If there were not 7 billion people on the planet, there would be plenty of room for wild animals and no need for domestic ones for food

Cedar Cat

January 06, 2013 1:36pm

I absolutely agree that we have separated ourselves from the non-human life on our planet, and much to our detriment. However, humans need to eat meat for proper nutrition (we have canine teeth, for this purpose). Only once a week is necessary. The Goddess gives life and She gives death. When we eat anything, we are giving death to something. Plants are given death without a thought, perhaps because they don't have eyes like us. Nonetheless, giving death is a sacred act, and taking in the energy of whatever we eat. We are taking in cruel energy of CAFOs and animals that are mutilated for commercial convenience. Cows are not designed to eat grain, so rather than return them to feeding on grass, the industry shoots them full of antibiotics and growth hormone. We take that into our own bodies, to our detriment. So, the answer is not to stop killing animals and plants for food (for we would die), rather, to be humane to all living things, and when giving death, make it humane. Done with an attitude of reverence and gratitude to the animal or plant. Now I eat you. And now you eat me. We are all one and we are all connected. Connect with the ancient wisdom of the Mother. And trust women to guide us into a new way of living.

Rebel with a Cause

January 06, 2013 1:13pm

A few comments here mention religion. As far as I can see the main religion in America (and much of the world) is now the religion of money. For money anything will be sacrificed, including life itself.
And as for those 'Americans eating anything they d..n well like' , you probably wouldn't like it half as much if you knew what was in the food you eat. But you're going to have to fight like hell to find out what's in there because the biotech industry won't tell you. They're the ones who seem to think they ARE God and therefore have the right to put in your food whatever they want, be it Frankenstuff, pesticides or whatever else they can concoct. Life is definitely not sacred to them, it's just something to make vast amounts of profit from.
Separation from Nature? Absolutely! The problem is that Nature doesn't think so and will ultimately take us all with her when she goes down.

seanna

January 06, 2013 12:28pm

My view is that what you eat is as personal as your spiritual life. I don't care what you eat or with what god you converse as long as you are not hurting someone else. I do not shop at McDonalds or WalMart or... for political and humanitarian reasons and I have a negative visceral reaction to the idea of slaughter houses. However, the arguments for eating or not eating meat all seem to built on rotting wood. Full of holes. Listen to your body. It will tell you the truth.

Archit

January 06, 2013 11:21am

I enjoy and appreciate Nation of Change and enjoy many of the articles. However allowing this sort of extreme, biased, misinformed, and useless cacophany undermines your credibility as an organization. Caleb starts out of the gate with a gross disconect about American culture stating that we have a long tradition of seperation from nature. We have a new tradition of seperation but our culture was originaly based on getting back to nature. A culture seperate from nature would never have fostered an environment which could have alowed Thereau, Emerson, Lewis and Clark, Muir, and the art of John James Audabon, La Farge, Thomas Cole, Frank loyd Wright, Fay Jones. I could go on forever but this seperation is new and certainly needs to be reversed. Further more there are mom and pop farms, witness the ever growing CSA movement and the growing interest in permaculture. Mr. Jacabo seems to choose to ignore this and lose all credibility in the process. Then to put all on the shoulders of men is absurd and and pointless, calling for sexist extremism. Inflamatory language of this sort is exactly equal to the absurd language used by our "enemies" on the other side of the isle. It is exactly this kind of irrational approach that causes division, and partisanship, doing no good for anyone, while encouraging everyone on both sides to reifnforce their positions and walls. The only people who will listent to him are those that already agree with him. He is preaching to the choir with his back firmly and pointedly turned to everyone else.

Please use better editorial judgement when you choose to puiblish articles. I would love to point my more conservative leaning friends to this news source but I know they would quickly ignore everything on here as rubish because of a few bad apples.

Riconui

January 07, 2013 4:58pm

I have to take issue with your characterization of our national origins being "based on getting back to nature"...... Our disconnect from nature goes back to Aristotle and an inherent sense, unearned, that nature was here for humankind"s disposal, in all senses of the word. It was a philosophy that took hold in Christian culture with a vengeance. By the time it reached our shores, it had become all but a transparent aspect of the dominant culture. It was a rift that immediately separated Europeans settlers from the indigenous people of this continent, and is still at work today.

We've produced our share of maverick thinkers and poets and authors and artists, even the occasional politician, but none have ever seriously posed a threat to the innate fact that western culture views the world, by that I mean nature, from an adversarial standpoint.

Trish House's picture
Trish House

January 06, 2013 12:28pm

Archit, it is my understanding that anyone that subscribes to Nation of Change can write an article by using THE BLOGS page. You may be better served by sending your wise friends to contribute their thoughts here with articles and by refuting unwise articles.

Kootenay Coyote

January 06, 2013 11:16am

All the way back to Cotton Mather (Wonders of the Invisible World, Magnalia Christi Americana), with his diabolical Puritan vision of a North American wilderness in which ‘millions of devils’ lurked at every footstep outside the sacrosanct New-England towns. That is the fountainhead of the American division from Nature. RLDMS' reference to Halakha laws (Hebrew Sharia) is only more of the same.

RLDMLS

January 06, 2013 11:04am

The American people need to first stop telling themselves that they are "free" to eat and drink whatever they d--n well choose. So-called "Christians" completely
misinterpret Peter, the apostle's vision of a blanket, filled with all kinds of animals that He, in His book of Kingdom rules; His Law, said were unfit for human consumption. Peter was a stubborn, stiff-necked guy that it took God
some real nocking in the head of Peter, to get Peter to change his attitude about
proselytizing among non-Jews. And Peter later did not only allow himself to, but
in fact discovered a whole new world of getting Greeks and Romans to accept what it took Jesus some doing to get Peter, himself, to accept. It was all because
of the blanket filled with all those "unclean animals" that helped Peter to stop
calling any human unclean. Peter learned his lesson.

By no means was God saying He had in any way changed His Law about clean and unclean meats.

The point? All the millions of Americans who eat meat with blood in it, who eat meat from pigs, or crabs, clams, or animals whose hooves are not cloven (which
has to do with how the animal's digestive system operates), are largely causing the high rates of cancer, heart disease, and other killer diseases. The cost of health care has skyrocketed as scientists seek answers for mankind's unwillingness to follow a few simple rules that they, themselves, didn't think of
on their own. God's health laws are the answer. His enemy wants people to do whatever they want, no matter the consequences.

Jim Potter

January 06, 2013 11:16am

Cut the crap. You fundies have never proven the existence of your god. People enjoy eating chicken, beef, and fish. We humans are omnivorous animals, we have the ability to eat meat and plants, and we've been eating them for thousands of years with no ill effects. The real reason we have cancer and heart disease is our sedentary lifestyle, plus the fact that people are nowadays living long enough to develop heart disease and cancer. People are no longer dying off at 35 or younger, thanks to modern medicine.

You can believe whatever the hell you want to believe, RLDMLS, but please stop trying to shove your beliefs down our throats. We'll eat anything we damn well please, and there's nothing you can do about it, other than wail and gnash your teeth.