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What is anthropocentrism?

January 31, 2013

Anthropocentrism is the idea that human beings are the most superior in nature. The trouble with anthropocentrism is that this feeling of superiority rarely stops at plants or animals. Most people feel at least somewhat superior to other groups of people who are not like themselves. This violates the human supremacy argument. In order to keep the argument of human supremacy valid,  anthropocentrism must allow for dehumanization of others less like ourselves.  People take their own socioeconomic class, religious and political affiliation, heterosexuality, level of education and/or their nationality to be superior to other class levels or associations on at least a small level. This translates to those others as being less valuable and therefore deserving fewer rights which can lead to the idea that therefore they are less human.

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Have you ever felt less or no sorrow for others simply because they were part of a group that was different from your own?  As a result you may feel justified in the claim that they therefore have less or no rights.

Here is one American example:

“If you don’t speak the language, get out of the country”

This is a common American saying.

Labeling someone as an immigrant, and not a person the same as yourself, may cause you to feel superior to that person.  You may not care about their situation simply because you are a ‘tax payer’.  But we are all citizens of this world.  For most people the only reason someone is an American citizen is simply because they were born here. No one can help where they are born.

It is extremely important to remember that the above phrase about not speaking the language leaves out the fact that the original language(s) in the United States is the Native American language, not English.  Modern day American citizens have no more right to be here than anyone else.  Click here to watch The Canary Effect to learn more about the genocide of the Native Americans by American colonists.  The genocide of the Native Americans is but a blip in American history books. Please research the truth as I know everyone that values freedom also values knowing the truth.

The feeling of superiority on any level may carry with it a lack of empathy for living things from plants, to animals with the potential to apply a lack of value and rights to certain groups of human beings as well. Since it seems to be the case that most people are at least somewhat anthropocentric, then it would follow that crimes against humanity would hardly disappear so long as the devaluation of a life not human is currently standard. Devaluation of any life at all carries with it the potential to devalue human life.  This devaluation is a seed of genocide.  It allows us to view some living being’s deaths as a ‘casualty’ or a ‘meat’.  If it were your own child you would not refer to their death as a  casualty.  If it were your own dog you would not refer to him/her as ‘meat’ after death.  Click here to learn more about the word meat and to learn more about speciesism which is very much like racism. (Coming soon)

Why are we anthropocentric?  Why are we indifferent?  We all believe we are good people who are against violence and other terrible things.  Except that in some cases we are completely ok with it, such as the case of eating an animal that you know came from a factory farm.  Why?  And how are we able to live with two values that are completely opposite and still feel good about ourselves?  There is a reason:

There are many facets to human psychology.  We can allow these facets to control the way we think.  Or we can override them and take control of how we think.  I do believe this is the next step human beings must take in evolution – an evolution as to how we think collectively to override these tendencies we all seem to be born with.

Cognitive dissonance and confirmational bias:  the first is how uncomfortable you feel when watching violent or abusive videos of farmed animals.  Because you know it is wrong and goes against your belief system.  Most people will resolve their discomfort with confirmational bias.  This is when you amend your belief system to justify your actions because no one can stand to feel uncomfortable for very long.  And also, no one likes to be wrong so instead of being wrong and then having to change, it is much easier to amend our belief system to leave out certain animals or certain people from our beliefs of non-violence, abuse, etc.  It goes something like this:

I don’t believe in abuse.  But it’s not me doing the actual abuse.  There isn’t anything I can do to stop it anyway.  And besides, those videos might just be isolated circumstances.  It’s ok for me to eat ‘meat’.  They’re only animals.

That is confirmational bias.  This is amending your beliefs (I love animals.  I do not believe in abuse.)  so that you can continue to believe that you are not ok with animal abuse while continuing to eat the very animals that come from these abusive circumstances.

When your beliefs do not need any amendment to justify your actions you have finally harmonized who you believe you are with who you really are.

Until then, you are not who you think you are.  Your actions are who you are, not your beliefs. What do your actions say about you?  Are actions more important than how you feel?  Maybe not to you, but that is only because right now you are not the one in the cage.  If you were, you would know for a fact that actions are more important than feelings.  Do not wait to be in a cage to find your empathy.  For any one of us can potentially be victim to indifference – slaves, Jews, Armenians, etc – you are right now in a group that is different to another group of people.  Which means to them, you are different.  Which means they may be indifferent to you as well.  And indifference breeds more atrocities.  To fight this we must have compassion for all because believe it or not, compassion breeds more compassion.  Try it – read here about kindness and action, experiment with it, and see if you agree.

So who are you?  I am not asking you what you believe.  I am asking you what you do.  Because what you do is who you are, not your beliefs or your feelings.  Beliefs benefit only you.  They are inside.  They make us feel good.  But they only make US feel good.  They are of no benefit to anyone else.  When you act on those beliefs is when they come to life and are of benefit to someone other than yourself.

Be who you believe you are without amendment.  I guarantee you this great potential for love, compassion and understanding is a gift that you have inside of you.  But you must actively take it out and unwrap it each day.  It will be the greatest gift you will ever open and the greatest gift you could ever give to another person, to the whole world.  When we unwrap this gift, we put away our anthropocentrism, and we meet our own human potential for peace on earth.

Our next evolution as a species needs to be from mankind to man = kind.  Peace ❤

Peace ❤

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