Monday, June 6, 2011

"If a Tree Falls in the Forest...."

(Photos -- From the "Our Planet, Their's Too" Animal Rights event at Union Square yesterday)
"If a tree falls in the forest, but there is no one to hear it, did it make a sound?"
We are all familiar with this common riddle.
Yesterday, there was a sizable event held at Union Square to commemorate and acknowledge the (mostly denied) rights of animals the world over.  Although at least 200 people actively participated in the, "Our Planet, Their's Too" celebration for animals and thousands of others stopped by tables to pick up information and support, the action was apparently not covered by national or local media with the lone exception of the Daily News.
Question:  If an event is held to raise public awareness to timely ethical and social issues, but it is not covered in the national press, did it happen at all?
Perhaps what both questions really ask is, Are the eyes, ears and brains of humans the only acknowledgements to existence and actuality?
Present day reality is that the media (i.e. what we see, watch, learn or read through media sources) is the evidence of newsworthy existence and actuality to most people.
If it wasn't on Sixty Minutes or reported in the The New York Times then it is probably unimportant in terms of social significance or doesn't even exist.
But, the torture, abuse and killings of many billions of animals annually certainly does exist and clearly it should represent something of greater importance and social significance then whether a young man takes a girl to the school prom or whether a handful of musicians are unhappy about some "Quiet Zones" in city parks.
And yet the latter two stories received wide coverage in the local media today whereas the widely attended and public, Animal Rights event has so far, received pitifully little.
What is wrong with that picture?
It seems only reasonable and logical to conclude that on the, "Falling Tree in a Forest" riddle, the tree certainly does make a sound to the thousands of creatures in the forest who hear and could likely be effected or even killed by a falling tree. (Humans, after all, are not the only life forms capable of hearing.) 
Just because humans aren't around to hear or see something, does not negate its actuality or connection to social, inter-species or geological importance.  Indeed, the planet itself existed millions of years before the first human ever walked on it.
But, in our incredibly myopic and self-centered human world, if we aren't there to hear the falling tree, then it did not fall.
And nature-born "rights" for animals (i.e. the right to exist and attempt to survive within the balance and challenge of nature) do not matter or exist because we humans have neither granted such rights nor necessarily agree with nature about them.
"Out of sight, out of mind"  simply means something never happened or is happening.
The problem with this philosophy is that it is simply not true. 
The ethically (and ecologically) questionable torture, abuse and slaughter of billions of non-human animals every year absolutely does occur (though usually far from most human view) and it does bear connection and significance to almost everything else in life.
And yet, when some humans attempt to open the doors and provide rare glimpse into slaughterhouses, factory farms, vivisection labs, animal shelters, or avian gas chambers, we are shut out by the major media (i.e. the eyes and ears of the social, ethical and cultural worlds) in favor of more "important" news, such as prom dates and a handful of disgruntled musicians.
Apparently, a trillion trees could suddenly fall and few, if any of us would hear them.
But, we could tell ourselves they neither existed nor mattered.  -- PCA  

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