Sentience – I understood it innately when I was young, as many children do, without needing the proof of science or having to wade through and beyond the dialogue of anthropomorphism. A dog yelps from fear or loneliness or frustration. At that age, our intellect doesn’t argue away this fact because we don’t yet have to make our own way in the world and up the ladder at the expense of others.
About that yelping dog – I took him out for walks when he was being ignored by his human caregivers. He lived outside in a backyard down the street.
We grow up and we grow walls between us and empathy. It’s how our society is built. It’s how we get ahead in the world. We’re moving too fast to care. We also learn at a criminally young age that it’s acceptable to strive to attain all we yearn for, at any cost. Flesh. Entertainment. Eight thousand flavours of toiletries at our fingertips. The world is made into something we can buy, often at the expense of others.
We MUST acknowledge the sentience of others. I understand though that for many, before the acknowledgement must come education about compassion. “Only if we understand can we care. Only if we care will we help” says Dr. Jane Goodall. We live with such disconnect from the earth and from animals, this acknowledgement of sentience will have to start in schools and with youth. If we can bridge the gap between loving certain animals and using others, we can start to overcome our cognitive dissonance and become more compassionate stewards of the earth.
Animal rights photographer
Main human subject of TGIOM
View Jo’s album of images called SENTIENCE
The photograph above is taken by Jo-Anne McArthur during the rescue of Fanny-Fantasma, in upstate New York by Farm Sanctuary. Fanny’s story features prominently in The Ghosts in Our Machine.