I Want My Country Back

I Want My Country Back

It’s flawed, beautiful, striving, sprawling, hopeful and hopeless, and it’s worth saving despite everything.

This country was built on the backs of slaves, in the shadow of genocide. That such a monstrous legacy is compartmentalized while denying immigration to those without the skin tone of colonizers is more than cruel hypocrisy—it is moral collapse along the road to species extinction. Read more…

Super-Parents Who Grew Up in an Age of Benign Neglect

When I was a child, my parents often ignored me. It’s not that they were unkind to me. It’s that they had full lives of their own and didn’t like playing Candy Land. They believed that you should open the door and say to children, Go out and play. They were financially comfortable and could afford luxurious traveling and a country club membership. My two younger brothers and I earnestly enjoyed each other’s company, and that’s a good thing because we had a lot of it. Read more…

 

This Woman’s Tragic Murder Catalyzed A Solution To National Epidemic Of Domestic Violence Homicide

If necessity is the mother of invention, this is the woman whose shocking death led to a new approach to ending domestic violence homicide. Her name was Dorothy.

In 2002, Dorothy became a client of the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center after fleeing a shelter in Maine to one near her home in Massachusetts. Prior to seeking our services, she had endured almost two decades of severe abuse by her estranged husband that began very early in their relationship and continued during her two pregnancies and throughout her daughters’ childhoods. Read more…

Domestic Violence Homicide Is An Epidemic. Is A Hashtag Required To Capture The Media’s Attention And Our Nation’s Outrage?

American women are in the midst of an unprecedented societal “moment.” #MeToo and #TimesUp shine a light on what women have endured from men throughout history. So why is domestic violence still flying below the radar of our media and our national conscience when one in four women experiences severe physical violence by an intimate partner in her lifetime? When over half of American female homicide victims are murdered by intimate partners? Read more…

Hey Sam Rockwell… Sexual Harassment Is So Much More Than “Bullying”

In an opinion piece for NBC News, Sady Doyle writes, “Sam Rockwell, one of the few men pressed to talk about #MeToo on the red carpet who stars in a movie about the aftermath of a brutal rape in a small town, stammered out a vague answer about the movement that said nothing about sexism: ‘I don’t really know the answer to that. But I suppose the issue is bullying.’ The issue, as a matter of fact, is men — male power, male predators and the men who cover for the predators in their midst or turn a blind eye to the damage they cause.” Read more…

Stop glamourizing the pain of high heels

This is not a photo of my dead grandmother’s feet, but it matches the image I have of hers in my mind. She was a practicing podiatrist in Georgia in the 1940s — one of a handful of female physicians of any sort in that state, a feminist success story in her own way. At just under 4’11”, she wore heels every day of her adult life while treating the disfigured feet of her female patients who did the same. The irony did not escape her, as she self-castigated on this particular topic routinely within earshot. Read more…

How much more could women achieve if they rejected expensive & time-consuming beauty routines?

Riding in the car with my mother the other day, she remarked that I am judgmental of women who care a lot about their appearance. She told me that she wears makeup every day not because she feels she has to, but because it is fun. She explained that Botox and plastic surgery are things that can help women feel good about themselves. “Your graying hair is making you look older,” she said. Yeah, I know… Read more…

Peach

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It has been a while since I wrote my first memorial for Autumn Care & Crossings. In March of 2015, we became one of Dr. Schoenberg’s first clients, needing her assistance to help our 15-year- old cat, Fog, cross the rainbow bridge. She was one of a pair—sisters from a litter of feral kittens born in March of 2000. Read more…

What About the Children? Interrupting the Cycle of Animal Cruelty and Domestic Violence

cycle of violence

When I was a child, I saw a stage production of Oliver Twist. To this day, what sticks with me the most from that early theater experience is one of Dickens’ most vicious characters, Bill Sikes. I remember the scene where Sikes kicked and swore at his cowering dog until the poor creature bit his boot, resulting in Sikes grabbing for a nearby fireplace poker with one hand, and flipping open his pocketknife with the other. Only Fagin’s well-timed entrance allowed the dog to escape. Sikes’ girlfriend Nancy, however, was not so lucky. Sikes later beat her to death for turning on him to protect Oliver. Read more…

The Death Of Tilikum At SeaWorld And Our Own Moral Decay

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How unbearable. Tilikum of Blackfish fame has died at SeaWorld, and I am angry—again—and I am raging on social media—again. So, too, are many others.

The collective outpouring of grief on behalf of a killer whale may strike some as questionable. People wonder: Why do we react with fury and indignation at the suffering of animals when human beings are suffering every day? Read more…

The Death of Tilikum at SeaWorld and Our Own Moral Decay


 

How unbearable. Tilikum of Blackfish fame has died at SeaWorld, and I am angry—again—and I am raging on social media—again. So, too, are many others.

The collective outpouring of grief on behalf of a killer whale may strike some as questionable. People wonder: Why do we react with fury and indignation at the suffering of animals when human beings are suffering every day?

Take, for example, the death of Cecil the lion. Back in July 2015, I was taken to task by a friend for flippantly wishing a visit from karma upon the Minnesota dentist who killed Cecil. In a world full of violence, she wondered, how could I essentially call for more violence, and against a human being? I wasn’t really doing so. Social media often functions as a repository for the venting of one’s spleen, and is not generally confused with fatwa-like calls for the deaths of others. But her comment did get me thinking.

CecilI wonder if one of the reasons the deaths of “Tilly,” Cecil the lion, Marius the giraffe, Sateo the elephant, Harambe the gorilla and other iconic megafauna trouble us so is because our childhoods were infused with books and movies and mythology of these great beasts. They are deeply embedded in not only our earliest memories, but in our own moral development, which was carefully cultivated with animals as literary devices in the stories our parents passed down to us. Ferdinand the bull and Dumbo the elephant taught us lessons about how to be better humans. Aesop’s fables helped us learn right from wrong, good from bad, safe from unsafe.

In contrast, the human beings who capture, keep, and kill animals are archetypal villains, determined to exploit the animal kingdom for their personal gain.

Whether media is a mirror or a magnifying glass, it plays an indisputable role in whipping up global outrage. Most of us crying out in anguish over cruelty toward animals, myself included, actually participate in it thoughtlessly.

MariusPerhaps we eat meat, or use cosmetics tested on animals, or wear leather. We might eat organic free-range meat that is humanely butchered, as I do, and justify it by explaining that the animals had happy, dandelion-filled lives in sunny pastures. Maybe we do not patronize seaquariums or circuses. But in our hearts, we all know we’ve damaged many species on Earth—our own included.

I do things to get myself through the shame. I watch baby elephant videos, and lose my mind over anything to do with walruses, and follow animal conservation sites, and obsess over the happiness of my pets. I apply all of these behaviors like a balm.

How do most of us persevere in the face of this? We boycott. We donate. We sign and share petitions. By doing these measly things, we feel better, because we are doing something, but on a deeper level we are devastated by the gravity of what can’t be fixed.

Sateo Into this internalized culpability comes the news of dog meat festivals in China or an impassioned video by a veterinarian about an abused kitten. Or, we look at our Facebook newsfeed and watch a ticker tape speed by of articles about Tilikum, clicking Facebook’s new “Angry” emoticon on every one of them.

Animal suffering seems to pierce the thick skin we have built up to numb ourselves to what we are doing to our fellow creatures. The mistreatment and exploitation of animals represents a colossal failure of stewardship on our part, as well as the most unfathomable moral decay, rendered especially painful when we consider the role these animals played in our childhood moral development to begin with. We are traitors. Animal innocence has the unique power to break through our denial. We are animals too, but we live increasingly out of sync with nature and have all means of justification for what 7.3 billion individual humans are doing to millions of other species—and to each other.

HarambeI am feeling the pain of my skin being torn—a profound disgust for humanity filtered through a moment of recognition, a glance in the mirror. There is exquisite vulnerability in the realization of our own fleeting existence and its disproportionately disastrous effect on the only habitable environment we know of as it spins through the cosmos.

When people ask, How can we care more about a dead orca than we do about human-on-human atrocities? I think it’s the wrong question. We can care about it all. And we can stop elevating the value of human life over other life, since that’s what has gotten us into this mess in the first place.

Lori Day is an educational psychologist and consultant with Lori Day Consulting in Newburyport, MA, and the author of Her Next Chapter.

Photo credits

Tilikum: National Geographic News

Cecil: The Vegan Voice

Maurius: TreeHugger

Sateo: The Telegraph

Harambe: The Mirror

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