A new relationship with animals, nature and each other.

Why Mass Extinction Is Part of Human Nature

It’s surely the ultimate insanity. Why would we humans (by our own account the world’s most “intelligent” species) behave in a way that’s bringing about a mass extinction – one that will likely take us down along with so many other species?

It makes no sense. Except that it’s built into our very nature. And so, even as the extinction event accelerates, we just carry on, seemingly oblivious to what we’re doing. It’s the very definition of insanity.  The tragic irony of the human condition

In the two previous sessions of the “I Am NOT an Animal!” symposium, we learned about the social psychology field known as Terror Management Theory – how we humans manage the lifelong anxiety brought on by the awareness of our inevitable mortality, and how it affects our behavior toward each other and all the other animals.

In this talk by Michael Mountain, we look at some of the key questions to do with our relationship to our fellow animals:

  •     Why do we work so hard to tell ourselves that we’re not animals?
  •     Why is it the worst kind of insult when we call someone an ape, a rat, a dog or perhaps a cockroach?
  •     Why do we create religions and cultures that affirm our superiority to nature?
  •     Why do we imprison and torture other animals for our entertainment at zoos, circuses, marine parks, rodeos, etc?
  •     Why do we consider the continuing rape and pillage of the Earth to be economic “progress”?
  •     Why, also, do we see the commodification of other animals, like at factory farms, as “progress”?
  •     And why are we incapable of changing our behavior?

Much of what modern psychology is telling us about why we behave like this was known to our ancestors thousands of years ago. So, in this video, we look at the tragic irony of the human condition through the lens of both modern psychology and ancient stories like the Garden of Eden, Oedipus the King, and Prometheus who gave fire (a metaphor for self-awareness) to humankind.

And then we ask: How can we live our lives meaningfully as we head ever more rapidly toward mass extinction? And what can we do, in a gesture of true reconciliation, to make peace with our fellow animals and our fellow humans, and ultimately with ourselves?