What lessons are we leaving for the next generation? When we take account of our actions, there is one commonality that crosses all human-created boundaries of cultures, countries, ethnicities, genders, ideologies and religions – it unites us in our humanity.
There’s no question that humanity as a whole has accomplished many great things. Beautiful, powerful and challenging works of art; profound words of poetry and prose; consciousness-shifting philosophy and discourse, astounding advancements in technology and paradigm-altering discoveries in science. These aspects of our species appear unmatched by any other.
We are also unmatched in our capacity for leaving a monolithic amount of destruction in our wake. Unmatched in our creation of arbitrary lines of discrimination—within our very own species—and the resulting horrific enforcement of these false hierarchies, manifesting in such injustices and atrocities as racism, sexism, homophobia, genocide.
We humans have a penchant for assigning value and establishing dominion. For marginalizing those we deem lesser-than.
Perhaps our most impressive attribute—as well as the most dangerous—is our astounding ability to deny the very truth before us. To legitimize our own horrific behavior with the wonders of marketing. To hide away the consequences of our choices and actions. To silence those individuals who would threaten the balance of our collective comfort.
While the injustices and outright crimes we have committed—and continue to commit— against one another are undoubtedly deplorable, the most abused, willfully forgotten and deliberately silenced group of all has always been—and to this day remains—non-human animals.
From the perspectives of historical longevity, cross-cultural pervasiveness, universal enforcement, environmental destruction, socio-economic imbalance and outright body count—humanity’s treatment of non-humans is our single most impactful, lasting, and profound contribution to this world.
It’s rather perverse, really. In all our efforts to unite humanity, to find common ground on a global scale, it is ultimately our collective marginalization, enslavement, abuse, rape, torture and murder of trillions of innocent, sentient beings, that unifies our entire species across cultures, countries, ethnicities, genders, political ideologies and religions. tweet this
Cruelty is our commonality.
But it doesn’t have to be our legacy. tweet this
Our power lies in our voices and our actions—in shining a light on the truth of what we do to animals and by extension to ourselves, one another and our planet. It lies in our refusal not only to participate in the abuse, torture, exploitation, and murder of innocents, but also to lend our assumed endorsement of such atrocities by remaining silent ourselves.
We are up against a global denial of seemingly insurmountable proportions. But we must try.
To not speak is to leave our own legacy of inaction. [tweet this]
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— Emily Moran Barwick