Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Toward a New Understanding of Animals

There's a new book out called The Wauchula Woods Accord: Toward a New Understanding of Animals by Charles Siebert. (If you are in Australia, the book is called Roger's World: Toward a New Understanding of Animals. I don't know if any other countries have yet other titles.)

The book is one man's contemplation of humanity's relationship to nonhuman animals.

I didn't know at first if I wanted to recommend this book, for a couple of reasons.

Siebert is deeply mired in the "humans at the pinnacle of all creation" model of evolution. I just cannot support that. What makes us seem so superior is the lack of communication with other species; lack of insight.

And most of the book is written from the perspective that consciousness arises from the structure of the brain. I realize that to keep his credentials as a science writer he has to take that point of view, but I have to be realistic. I cannot deny what I have personally observed over many years, and I have come to the conclusion that the brain acts as the interface between the non-physical 'life force' and the physical body. The basic difference between my point of view and Siebert's is that I contend there is an intrinsic similarity between all forms of life, whereas Siebert must look at the shapes of brain cells and count their numbers in order to see a similarity.

But in the long run the point is that there is a unity between all forms of life, and Siebert gives some vitally important examples.

He points out how senseless killings have damaged both human societies and elephant societies in the same way.

He tells of the damage to animals' psyches as a result of being taken from their mothers at an early age.

He even goes into the subtleties of psychological developement, how even easily ignored things as the exchange of a glance between mother and child has a real effect on a developing personality.

He relates how monkeys are permanently traumatized by seeing their mothers shot and killed.

This last idea is very important to me. I have seen the effects of the deep, lasting trauma inflicted by gratuituous hunting. This is not hunting for food, but pointless, meaningless destruction of families and societies for a body part or two.

It's good that someone with accepted credentials is putting these ideas before the world, even if he has to constantly hammer on the idea that humans are superior to all other life. It is Siebert's description of how intelligent animal species develop real, deep mental disorders as a result of inhuman treatment that makes this book valuable. And I certainly agree with his hope that a self-centered humanity may stop abusing nonhumans if we perceive them to be part of ourselves, even if his and my points of view are different.

No comments:

Post a Comment