Today we have another guest post by a member of the un-Denial community, Gaia Gardener, who posted these thoughts on denial as a comment. I thought they were interesting enough to warrant promoting them to a more visible post.
Hello friends, thank you for a very interesting discussion about the realities of denial and how we humans seem to be able to manipulate all perceptions to fit our chosen narrative, whether or not we are consciously aware of our programmed beliefs however they were initialised and ingrained.
I am wondering if we can look at another subject, removed from overshoot, in which denial plays a big role in our actions/inactions so we can step back and dissect out a bit more how denial originates and becomes intrenched without us even realising our immersion in it, just like we in the small minority see happening to the masses and even polymaths in regards to overshoot denial.
The topic I think can fit the bill is the question of the ethics of eating animals, namely farmed animals which we consume in the billions every year. I won’t cover using animals for our labour and experimentation as the ethics of these actions can be construed to be justified in benefitting humankind which the majority of human beings would be in favour of. But the eating of animals in the modern world is not only unnecessary (and we can be spared the example of Inuits or other very minority population cultures who rely solely on animal products for sustenance, we do not have their situation in the least) but in fact there is convincing evidence that it is harmful to both our physical bodies and the planet, but for the sake of this argument, one need not consider either of those reasons to engage in a discussion of why we cannot eat animals nor their products if we believe we have a moral obligation to another sentient being. Let’s face it–we eat meat because we were brought up to do so and it tastes good (to most human taste buds) and it’s readily available without much effort on our part. However, the fact that animals suffer solely for our pleasure, tradition, and convenience is not enough moral ground to do so, for one can easily see how this disconnect can apply to any sentient being, including other humans, which is so obviously not an ethical choice. And yet, we are in complete denial that it is okay to eat chicken, cow, and pig but outrageously wrong to eat dog, cat, or horse. It is fine for us to imprison a member of a food species in the most horrendous conditions but we can be charged with abusing and neglecting other species we call our domestic companions. We can kill a food species animal way before their natural life span in a most horrific manner (everyone knows a slaughterhouse isn’t a happy place) so we can buy our sanitized plastic-wrapped packages of pork, beef, and healthy white meat chicken, but if we organise a dog fight and enjoy it, that is disgusting and shameful. You’re right, it’s not about education (most of us know that a live being had to be killed to get meat on the plate), or even more extreme forms of presenting the facts (how many of us would volunteer to witness what happens in a slaughterhouse, or even more tellingly, choose that as our job?). Yes, we have been lied to about happy free-range chickens or happy cows enjoying being milked on the happy dairy farm, but how many of us actually have spared more thought for what really happens in these industries, we’re only too happy ourselves to buy the more expensive organic or free-range option as if that absolves us from the guilt we still harbour knowing that no matter how happy the picture of the old MacDonald’s farm, we know this is a fantasy. Every animal still comes to an end in a way far from their natural choice and inclination.
I can sense the mounting justifications and counter-arguments–we need meat for our health or else we would get sick and die, if we didn’t raise the food animal they wouldn’t have a chance at life at all, what about if we were stuck on an island with only rabbits to eat, you can see how inane these points are, and generally stated to obfuscate the moral issue at hand. I am talking about modern day humans who now have access to a wide range of very suitable and healthful plant-based protein, and the methods we use to obtain our meatstuffs, even the question of whether or not it is our evolutionary diet (very debatable) isn’t the point here. The point is our denial of other factors which should be considered when making the choice of whether it is ethical to eat farmed animals, or even a beloved family pet lamb (just these words should put it in perspective that it isn’t but somehow we still do it–is that denial? ) What is it that keeps the majority of people still reaching for their burgers and steaks and fried chicken and bacon and eggs despite knowing what everyone should know? Is it denial of the truth because to face the ethical question front on would demand a choice and most humans just cannot overcome the continuation of pleasure, tradition, and ease of living, especially if it means realising it is a morally wrong thing to do so. So it is far easier to adopt cognitive disconnect, join the masses who are in your camp, degrade and exclude those who are not, and just keep doing what you want for one more day after day as long as it can last because at least you got to enjoy it and no one can take that away. Sound familiar? See how easy denial becomes just our way of perceiving our reality, and that is why I chose this example to prove that point. Every thought that is possibly going through your head now is a function of denial, one way or another, and none of it was even conscious before I brought this so called controversial topic up–if one can deem supporting active suffering of sentient beings just because we like it, to have any controversy attached.
I guess what I’m trying to express, which is in full agreement with what has been discussed, is that all of us have the capacity for denial (whether or not MORT is the primal reason) but we can’t see it as denial when we’re in the thick of it because that is just our chosen narrative. The way we dichotomise over overshoot, population control, Covid, Russia, just about any topic you can name, all confirm this. Only others outside that narrative (and usually the minority) can see that there is another perspective (because it’s their reality) and then call out the majority as in denial, which is exactly what the majority thinks of the outliers! It’s like that endless hall of mirrors reflecting back to you ad infinitum, whichever way one looks, there’s another image looking away from you, too, with the prime cause of the illusion being your own presence and perception of your reality. I think denial is a bit like that–it’s what holds us in our place, and helps define our sense of self by creating another version of possible self to bounce off of. I’m not saying there’s any right or wrong in this, it just seems to be how we are wired and until now, it has kept us on the survival ascendancy (that and a whole heck of fossil fuels!)
I think a good question to always be ready to ask ourselves in any situation to draw out denial is “What knowledge or understanding or different perspective that I may not have now but is available to gain or learn, would change or enhance the way I see the situation? ” Try it, it is very hard to allow oneself the possibility of overcoming our deep-rooted beliefs but yet that is precisely the attitude it will take for us to change them. Forcing education upon others doesn’t work as we have seen, it has to come from a self-directed intention to fill the knowledge gaps (isn’t that how we all arrived at our overshoot awareness and acceptance? We didn’t find this site because we were lectured into it, we found it because we sought it out) and then an even more entropy defying self push to change our actions to match our new insights. If the motivation is great enough, this can and will happen, but everyone has a different threshold before the fire is lit under our bums. Maybe that is why we need to head hell-bent towards full-on collapse, perhaps the only way to save ourselves is to first come within a nanometer of destroying ourselves. I still take comfort and security from the once inviolable Newton’s third law and trust that is will prove true for this case, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Let us pray for calamity that we will reach that opposite reaction with the same energy swinging us out of our doom as going into it, and preferably very soon!
Namaste, everyone. Thanks for bearing with another Gaia attack.