On 5 February we enter the Year of the Pig in the Chinese Lunar calendar.
Now, Wikipedia tells us, the Japanese zodiac and the Tibetan zodiac do not have a pig; they have a boar.
I’m going with the Year of the Boar.
Because if we want to get to animal liberation, the ideal to keep in mind is a community of free-living beings. Not beings who were selectively bred to be controlled by the apes known (to ourselves) as Homo sapiens.
Decide for yourself. Would you want advocates to represent you this way?
Sure, the cut-paper caricature seems happy, but there’s no joy in being born dependent on, and ultimately killed by, a controlling owner.
Very few purpose-bred pigs make it to refuges. Those so-called lucky ones wouldn’t need luck if we humans would just stop breeding away their independence.
So much for the happy pig motif. Let’s get real.
Now look at the banner photo. Free-living boars live and move together, in groups. If the image of young sibling boars evokes a happy feeling in the viewer, it happens in a more respectful context: freedom.
Representing pigs as adorably happy in a pet-like state isn’t the best we can do. But it’s what a lot of vegan advocacy does.
Here it is, at the most extreme, with this cute little lonely pig.
Undomesticated boars live in groups. Babies stick together. So, this image should trouble us and make us question whether what seems “cute” to most human eyes is a profoundly sad state for the animal who’s displayed.
And now, are we really going to share a video clip of a helpless baby pig in a bidet for “National Dog Day”?
OK, yeah, I’m gonna get preachy here.
In the Year of the
Pig Boar, how about we focus on these beings’ ancestral, free communities?
Most people don’t know what young boars look like, or where they live. We, as vegans, should know. Because veganism is not about making selective breeding seem adorable. Veganism is about challenging it and refusing to obscure the reality of where animal communities come from and who they really are.
Best wishes to everyone in the Year of the Boar. Let these images of boars interacting set the tone for a new year in vegan outreach.
Outstanding post! There is indeed something horribly wrong with stealing beings from the Natural World, confining them, and selectively breeding (mutating) them to serve our own selfish, self-centered whims. Animal Beings do not exist to serve human beings. Pet-ownership is NOT vegan! Rescuing domestic-born individuals from the harm people commit against them and caring for them in a sanctuary setting is different than “owning a pet”. The breeding of CAPTIVE MUTANTS (aka livestock and pets) must forever cease. We should indeed be spreading the idea of Animal Beings only as the wild individuals nature meant them to be, instead of perpetuating pet-ownership. Pet-ownership is based on the idea of the benefits humans derive from USING other living beings. Animal Beings DO NOT EXIST to serve human beings! Animal Beings should only exist as a natural part of the Natural World, in all their splendor wildness!
Enjoyed your thoughtful post, Bunny. I would just add that since we humans are responsible for the current pet mentality, we need to provide safe and loving care for them while advocating for an end to pets and all other domestication.
The other animals do not exist to serve us. This understanding is at the core of being vegan, and being vegan doesn’t authentically happen without it. https://ivu.org/history/world-forum/1951vegan.html Thanks, Bunny.
This is an excellent example of human interference in Nature (enslavement of other species). A related discussion would be the ramifications of introducing boars into the wilds of Hawaii.
Our projects of dragging and dropping animals around the planet have led to many tragedies. The troubles for these animals and then for other animals caught up in the unintended consequences can overwhelm us. Where are we to start in the world?
Let’s at least begin with a clear expectation of the animal advocacy sector: that it will refrain from silly and offensive visuals that go out to collect shares and likes and marketing success by trivializing the plights of animals whose autonomy we’ve stolen, whose vulnerability we have imposed.
Thanks for your thoughtful words as always, dear Chris.
I always enjoy your posts and will share this one as always. You make connections like no other, Lee. From “domesticated” to ancestral–if only more people could appreciate their ancestors, then perhaps they’d see the Boars alive today and their complex Boarness with a different, perspective.
We’ll carry the news, Will. Thank you.
I imagine a world where all animals, reptiles, fish and fowl, homo sapiens, walk (swim, fly) and wander freely without fear of being killed, run over, run down, caged and captured by a human being. When I see a deer in the woods, I hope to also see a boar, a cow, a bear, an Eagle, a rooster, etc, the way real liberation once was. Thank you Lee for your wise insight.
Thank you, Sandie. And oh…Is there anything sadder than the story of the cows? Here is a piece from July on cows that I now see is strikingly parallel to the current conversation: https://veganplace.wordpress.com/2018/07/10/a-note-on-cowappreciationday/ In terms of sheer weight on the planet, selectively bred cows make up the most massive element of humanity’s ecological footprint. And where are their ancestral, free communities?