What Trump's Elephant Ban Teaches us about Human Compassion

November 18, 2017

I think we've made enough noise, dear Facebook. As of last night, our Tweety Trump announced that until further review, the ban will be left in place. Never-the-less, read on. 


The thing I find interesting about animal scandals in the news (try HARAMBE, or the elephant ban more recently) is that it always turns Facebook and Instagram and the whole internet circus into a weekend warrior animal activist forum. Which is great! Don't get me wrong, if people were this fired up about animal cruelty and animal conservation and global warming blah blah blah...everyday, then we might actually have a shot at preserving the planet for the next few generations. And thank you, Mr. Trump for potentially furthering the timeline of African Elephant species extinction. We can add that to your legacy.


But before we go on, go take a look at this New York Times article. The writing is significantly better than anything I could do, and it's well summed up for the Facebook, "like and repost" generation of social media new buffs. I've linked it below.




But I do have good news for my weekend warrior activist friends (and I'm not trying to be condescending or spiteful, it really does warm my heart to see that people care!). Trump might be screwing over the elephants, and since many of you would most likely see the irony in my suggestion to factory farm them, let's take this as a lesson in compassion.


Compassion is defined as "sympathetic consciousness of others distress together with a desire to alleviate it." Damn. Let that sink in. 


Now let's add on a podcast, one of my favorite words. Dr. Melanie Joy, a Harvard educated social psychologist has a wonderful book called "Why we love dogs, eat pigs, and wear cows," but I suppose she could easily add on "and trophy hunt elephants." The podcast is a discussion with Rich Roll, someone I've talked about several times on this blog. The topic? Carnism. Carnism is the phrase coined by Dr. Joy that details the mentality and cognitive contradictions that exist in the ranking of animals as they relate to our own specific needs and the defense mechanisms our brains have formed as a result of the culture we reside in. A dog barks and wags his tail at me, and I don't mind picking up it's poop, because it somehow brings a certain amount of satisfaction to my existence. And anyone that would eat a dog is a cruel sociopath who probably tortured and killed animals as a small child (which is something we now consider acceptable and "the price of doing business" when it's labeled cultural and capitalistic in the charade of nicely manicured phrases like "animal agriculture").  A cow is an animal I have deemed emotionless and obscure because all they do is eat grass and shit grass, and in between...well...there's not much going on but peristalsis. There's no way they could possibly feel fear or pain, or cry when their babies are taken from them all in the name of veal and cow milk. Hmmm. Yes. Carnism. 



And if rich Americans are allowed to come into these countries and kill endangered species with the hope that it will stave off the poachers and bring a much needed boost to an economy in the center of a military coup, well that'd just be great wouldn't it! How very Disney this is all turning out! But I think the deep routed problems that contributed to this particular avenue to near extinction are not resolved to the point that, as the Fish and Wildlife Department have put it, allowing trophy hunting will increase conservation efforts. I understand this mentality when a species isn't endangered. Hunters more often then not are the backbone in funding conservation efforts, another point to consider when demanding justice from your non-monetized Facebook pulpit. 


Which brings me to my point. If you want to effect change, it starts at home, it starts with yourself. It starts with conscious living and consciousness of the negative effect that your actions have on those around you, human or any other kind of animal. Humans are inherently good, compassionate beings that (like EVERY other creature on this planet) have a bond with the world, and strive to find a place in it that isn't subject to pain or suffering of any kind. But unlike every other creature, we believe that we are the end all be all summation of creation and our way IS the highway and damn it we are going to believe and propagate a list of arbitrary rules and cultural norms that serve the expansion of that highway! But here's the thing, eventually that highway is just going to "Super Mario Rainbow Road" it off into a bleak and desolate existence where, you guessed it, there are NO elephants. But also no rainforests, or protected public lands (again, thanks Mr. President), or beautiful island paradises full of miraculous things like margaritas and tacos. You get the pictures. Let's be COMPASSIONATE, not selectively compassionate. 


Again, I'm not saying that reposting articles on Facebook with little niceties like "Trump's the worst," or "This is horrible, meh," is inherently bad or ineffective. Obviously the combined social media and population backlash warranted a reconsideration on the part of this administration. But if you truly care about preservation of our home, or conservation of the planet and elephants and margaritas, maybe you'll consider the little choices made every day. Cut out a cheeseburger once a week. Be a full time warrior for this place, not just a Facebook one. 




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