We’ve become our own predators….


by Jason Miller

Our dominant culture, in which I fully admit to participating (despite my significant efforts to minimize my involvement) is wreaking havoc on this “pale blue dot” we call Earth. Climate change, scarce and tainted water, devastating levels of toxins in the environment, rampant consumerism that generates truckloads of fetid refuse per second, massive deforestation, and the Sixth Extinction[1] implicate humanity, and our socioeconomic/cultural construct we euphemistically call “civilization,” as nothing short of the living embodiment of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Our species, by virtue of our chosen ways of interfacing with the world, personifies Death, Famine, War, and Pestilence. Despite our numerous worthwhile attributes and accomplishments, humanity specializes in slaughter, mayhem, abject cruelty, genocide, ecocide, and all manner of destruction.

Gaia, the Earth, is our mother and we are engaging in matricide against her. Nonhuman animals are our brethren, and we are engaging in fratricide against them. Intentionally or not, we are on course to emulate Orestes and Cain. As a deeply committed vegan and a practitioner of my own eclectic spirituality–in which I consider nonhuman animals and the Earth to be sacred–this disturbs me in a profound way. Yet I find solace in the fact that Mother Earth was here long before our species became an infestation and that unless we radically change our mode of existence, She will eradicate us like the virulent pests that we are.

Whether we want to admit it or not, nearly all of our psyches have been twisted, perverted and, in some instances, pulverized to the extent that we live and believe some of the most outlandish lies that an objective and sane mind could imagine, were such an observer somehow able to completely extricate themselves from the tapestry of self-deceptions we call “reality.” Our inculcation is so deep, the damage to our battered psyches so immense, and the appeal of industrial civilization’s alluring artificial and pernicious comforts so strong that many people barricade their minds from the truth with a variety of potent psychological defenses, including projection, ad hominem attacks, scorn and ridicule, anti-intellectualism, appeals to tradition, distortion, rationalization and a host of others.

While it poses a monumental challenge, if we’re going to stave off self-destruction and the annihilation of billions more nonhuman animals along the way, we must exorcise the psychic demons that keep our souls shackled to the pathological and metastatic ways in which our species behaves and organizes. Painful and seemingly impossible as it may be, there are a number of deeply ingrained cultural memes and components that we need to significantly alter or obliterate to avert impending disaster.