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On the Arrogance of Stewardship

I had a dream about blogging last night. Evidently my daily posting is affecting my subconscious.

The dream was a nightmare of sorts, where my sister, Judy, was anchoring the news, exposing the liar that is Animal Person (she really is an anchorperson, so this wasn’t one of those weird dreams where you’re at your house, but it’s not really your house, and you’re talking to your husband, who’s really your father–uh-oh).

Judy was quoting my biography at Animal Person, which was written nearly a year ago. As anyone can see from the posts, I was struggling with new welfare, on my way to being an abolitionist. My message was one of reducing suffering to get to abolition, but I clearly hadn’t done enough research to discover that that transition, which seems natural intellectually, doesn’t quite pan out in real life. I have Gary Francione to thank for pushing my thinking and taking out the "wishful" part.

In my original biography, I wrote some drivel about humankind needing to recognize we’re stewards of Planet Earth. Really. I did. And for a new welfarist, that’s not a bad word to use. After all, new welfare is about regulating the usage of animals, making it "more humane," and "decreasing suffering." Though decreasing suffering is always a laudable objective, it is sometimes the case that the net, long-term effect is an increase in suffering, as I’ve written about numerous times.

As an abolitionist, however, stewardship is anathema to me. I don’t believe it is the job of humans to involve ourselves in the lives of every other living being on the planet, under the guise, of course, of helping them. I do not view us as annointed with the job of  benevolent, yet tough parent, who does things her children might not appreciate, but which are for their own good (as it is I who know best).

Think about the arrogance in that assumption. Remove whatever religious texts have told you about our place in the world (as they were all written by men with a lot less knowledge of life and the cosmos than you and I have), and really think about whether it makes sense that we who cannot successfully, peacefully manage ourselves, should dare to attempt to manage anyone else.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Mike Grieco #

    Mary Martin,Ph.D.,you are "AWESOME",thanks again for your words of wisdom.
    Yukon Big Game Outfitters,Trappers,Native people and other special interest groups all call themselves Stewards of the land!Imagine that?
    SHE(Mother Nature) must be sooo grateful to have humans taking care of her children; Yup Arrogance!(Control Freaks I Say),

    May 7, 2007

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