Mark Bekoff’s article ‘We Are Animals and Therein Lies Hope for a Better Future‘ is the very piece with which I would like to open this new year.
As this esteemed professor in animal emotions writes:
“The time has come to debunk the myth of human exceptionalism once and for all — it’s a hollow, shallow and self-serving perspective on who people are. Of course we are exceptional in various ways — as are other animals. Perhaps we should replace the notion of human exceptionalism with species exceptionalism or individual exceptionalism, moves that will force us to appreciate other animals for who they are, not who or what we want them to be. Speciesist arguments that separate us from other animals, and that discount the value of individual differences even within species, are misleading and have disastrous results for all concerned. Such views are not only bad for animals in laboratories, but also for wild animals, as evidenced by the new and rapidly developing field called compassionate conservation, in which the emphasis is on the lives of individual animals.
“We must not ignore nature, for we do so at our own peril. By paying close attention to who other animals are and what they want and need, we can rewild our hearts and keep our hopes and dreams alive as we reconnect with other animals and nature as a whole and feel ever so comfortable with our membership in the diverse and fascinating animal kingdom.”
Read the excellent article in full here
May we ‘rewild our hearts…’
Saying no to the myth of ‘human exceptionalism’ also pushes us to say no to race-based/ethnic-based/nationality-based exceptionalism. Saying yes to the natural wildness in our hearts, reconnecting with the earth and with other animals creates more space in our hearts and our minds for compassion towards all, be they human or non-human. And we are desperately in need of more compassion, more love. And love has the ability to not only feed itself, but to also feed that other beautiful emotion: hope.