Few days ago I was invited to an interesting lecture about racism in its psychological and educational aspects, a subject that should always worry us and a subject that was fueled and nourished, at least where I live, by the latest war between Israel and the Hamas.
When the psychologist who gave the lecture asked us about our opinions as to why did the hatred between right winged and left winged people, and between Jews and Muslims has increased so much during the war, my suggestion was that on every day’s routine, this hatred is still there, but it is only theoretical and dormant since there is no context that is emotional enough to contain it. During emergencies and crises we believe these opinions to have stronger grasp on our reality, and more importantly, we believe opinions of those we oppose to have stronger grasp on reality, and so we feel like we must fight them as hard as we can (by ‘we’ I mean – those who hold this racist or political hatred) so these opinions won’t take over. This is not the case, however. Our opinions as private individuals have little or no effect over the actions of the state, and our opinions have little or no effects until they become actions, this is where we get to the root of racism or any other supremacist thinking.
As the lecture continued, and through a nice quotation about racism by Albert Camus, we listened to and talked about the necessary connection between the attacker and the victim, a relation that is mandatory for the attacker who needs to verify and validate his set of values by his violent action. For instance, there is no point in yelling “Gay!” at someone, except in order to make everybody else know that I am straight.
Is there any importance at all to the moment when a private individual calls another private individual “Traitor”, except for the sake of his own reinforcement as a loyal patriot? Alan Watts tells how years ago he could hear people talking against the state in Hyde park, and no force, police or government, cared about their words as England was a powerful state and had a confident government and population. Now you can’t really talk against your country almost anywhere without dire consequences, as all government bodies are weak, not confident in themselves or ignorant to private liberty in the first place.
The lecture has observed several daily scenarios from the outside, but since it was centered on humanity and the humane, like its many counterparts in the realm of humanistic contemplation, I could listen to it in a wider context and easily understand how the violent and oppressing nucleus will never be eradicated as long as we do not accept the necessity of breaking our own thought boundaries, our thinking that is locked inside an anthropocentric point of view. Among the different slides of the lecture popped out this advertisement for low fat ice cream, called “Skinny cow”, where you can see a drawing of a thin cow in an almost sexual, humorous position. This is the point where all morals of the humanistic story collapse: We were watching this photo together with the psychologist who gave the lecture, as she tried to explain how this picture is degrading – women.
I do not intend on arguing about the feminist point of view over this advertisement, but I do want to point out a single fact – there is no human woman in this picture but rather a cow that was disfigured, both body and soul, and then turned into a sexual object. A humanist person looking at this picture will surely see women-degradation in it, since in the human mind the cow is so transparent that her entity is being replaced with the entity of a woman, who we are all used to see objectified. The psychologist who gave the lecture could not understand or see what was clearly represented in the picture – a representation of a cow who is locked her entire life in a dairy farm until her execution, while here in the representation she is smiling and alluring.
Why then do we have to hurt animals? Are we doing this in order to prove ourselves over and over again that we are not animals, but humans? Is the source of the suffering we cause animals in our lack of confidence as human entities, a confidence we need to fuel by cruelty to what we call “Lesser beings”?
On our dinner plates we can find pieces of flesh that once belonged to living creatures who were afraid, who were hurt, and who died. Why are we doing this to them? “This is how the world works”, we say, but what we actually need to say is – “This is how the humanistic spirit ensures its place in her own eyes, high above the throne of dictatorship, sloth, aggression and cruelty”. Near the end of the lecture we heard about a theoretical scenario in which a lion escapes the cage, and a man who will see this lion will automatically assume him to be dangerous, since we learned to see the lion as dangerous.
This lion, the one we conquered, hunted, hurt, starve, scared and caged, is the dangerous creature, apparently. How can you even convince violent humans that they are actually violent?