From birth, most of us humans are promoted into a lifestyle- pruned and nurtured – molded and formed, in a modus vivendi that we ultimately (and unknowingly) carry into our adult lives. It might seem self-evident and rather egregious, that we are socially conditioned. Yes, you and me, we are individuals- but we are social beings- conditioned ones!
We are conditioned by our teachers, relatives, peers, religion, and of course, by technology and media. We grow up first loving all animals, a requited agape love. But slowly, the curtains close- and new doctrine takes center stage. The precept now dictates that animals are in fact divided, that most (predestined) animals are simply a “food” source, without intelligence, feelings, emotions, and certainly without a soul.
Social conditioning – as it applies to an individual is a concept that goes beyond just our biological characteristics- it is our social nature. It’s our participation with the world and other humans. And how we participate and function, well, that all stems from how we are socially conditioned.
In the “food” domain, this idea of conditioning also applies. Billions of dollars have (and are continually) being spent – by the meat and dairy industry. Through commercials, ads, fashion, and social media- we are not only conditioned to consume & wear animals, but we are given a “pass” on any guilt that may be associated with taking the life of a sentient being. It’s through social conditioning that we now look at cows as “patties”, chickens as “cutlets”, fish as “fillets”. We are what we eat, only after we have been conditioned on whom to eat. Our childhood memories illuminate visions of happy cows grazing in fields, cute little chickens perched on fence posts, piggy’s gleefully rolling around in puddles of mud. But what we don’t see, nor remember being taught, is the horrid reality. Animals that are raised for food are killed as babies- hens at six weeks old, pigs at six months, and cows at 5 years. They live an existence solely based on violence. They neither are happy, nor healthy- only unrecognizable ghosts of a phony utopia. But this is the mechanism of social conditioning- it is the repetition of the same principle and message. We’ve all heard it- and it’s now ingrained in our psyche. The problem with this kind of social conditioning is that it herds people into beliefs, emotional reactions and responses- without having any form of practical or logical evidence to support it. We actually get upset when these views are questioned- and we feel it’s our “right” in engage in those behaviors – social conditioning at its worst.
The Milk Myth
“Drink milk for strong bones!” “It does the body good!”
Social and Cultural conditioning of milk consumption has been around for thousands of years- and it still is going on strong today. What if I told you that many scientific studies have linked milk consumption to an assortment of detrimental health issues? Milk is an animal protein, and although it does contain calcium, milk acidifies the body’s pH level, that triggers an acid neutralizer. Guess what that neutralizer is? Calcium. And guess where that calcium comes from? That’s right, your very own bones. SO, the calcium that keeps our bones strong is the very same calcium that is used to neutralize the acidifying effect of milk. How ironic!
“The countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis are the ones where people drink the most milk and have the most calcium in their diets. The connection between calcium consumption and bone health is actually very weak, and the connection between dairy consumption and bone health is almost nonexistent.” -stated by Amy Lanou Ph.D., nutrition director for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C.
But that’s not even the half of it. Social conditioning, as I mentioned earlier, is all about repetition- and not all that keen on being factual. Here’s the social conditioning on dairy VS the facts:
- Cows are happy to give milk!
- You NEED milk to grow strong and healthy
- Come on, they are just COWS!!
- To produce milk, cows have to be pregnant- and give birth. The newborn baby calf is taken away within hours of being born- female calves are then raised become dairy cows like their mothers, whilst the male calves go to veal farms, to be slaughtered at 16-30 weeks of age. In the dairy industry, a cow’s lifespan is 5 years- after being consistently impregnated and used for her milk.
- As stated above, milk DOES NOT do the body good. Why not try getting your calcium from plants? Animals get their calcium by consuming calcium-rich plants. So even though we are all conditioned to believe that calcium comes from milk and dairy products, the real source of calcium richness is the earth.
- Research has shown that cows clearly understand cause-and-effect relationships—a sure sign of advanced cognitive abilities. For example, cows can learn how to push a lever to operate a drinking fountain when they’re thirsty or to press a button with their heads to release grain when they’re hungry.Researchers have found that not only can cows figure out problems, they also, like humans, enjoy the intellectual challenge and get excited when they find a solution.
Cosmic Perspective & Compassion
Social conditioning has many problems- but how do we unlearn our social & cultural conditioning? So often we are conditioned to keep our perspective – moderate, to say the least. Our minds compressed between time and space, and our bodies bound to materialistic addictions. Social conditioning has no line, and the manipulation is constant. You turn on the T.V., open your FaceBook, pass by a billboard- subconsciously you are engaging in the socially conditioned paradigm. Awakening yourself and reversing social conditioning happens only when you decide to “step out of the box”. Maybe one day you’re eating burger, and then it dawns on you that you’re eating a “who”, a face, a soul of a helpless creature that had to suffer and die for 5 minutes of your pleasure. It only takes a crack to let the light of compassion flood through, seeping into your awareness and consciousness. The process of gaining a more cosmic or universal perspective is different for everyone. Many people find an awakening and reversal of social conditioning, by meditation. Being alone, and isolated, you may be able to confront and pinpoint areas in your life that have been tainted by social conditioning.
You may ask yourself:
“Do I really want this, or have I been conditioned to want this”?
“What would my inner child have to say about this?”
“If I was all alone, would I be able to support this idea/practice/social expectation with a light heart?”
“As I see myself as apart of whole, on this living, breathing planet- do my thoughts and actions speak of compassion”
“Do I need to have an animal suffer or die for my pleasures”
I offer these verses & quotes of encouragement :
“And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” —Genesis 1:30
“But ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you.” —Job 12:7
“The righteous know the needs of their animals, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.” —Proverbs 12:10
“He gives to the animals their food, and to the young ravens when they cry.” —Psalms 147:9
“Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your judgments are like the great deep; you save humans and animals alike, O Lord.” —Psalms 36:6
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” —Matthew 5:7
The world, we are told, was made especially for man – a presumption not supported by all the facts.… Why should man value himself as more than a small part of the one great unit of creation?
—John Muir, naturalist and explorer (1838–1914)
Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.
—Albert Schweitzer, French philosopher, physician, and musician (Nobel 1952)
Whenever people say “We mustn’t be sentimental,” you can take it they are about to do something cruel. And if they add “We must be realistic,” they mean they are going to make money out of it.
—Brigid Brophy (1929–1995)
There is no fundamental difference between man and the higher animals in their mental faculties.… The lower animals, like man, manifestly feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery.
—Charles Darwin, naturalist and author (1809–1882)
The difference in mind between man and the higher animals, great as it is, certainly is one of degree and not of kind.
—Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man
Even in the worm that crawls in the earth there glows a divine spark. When you slaughter a creature, you slaughter God.
—Isaac Bashevis Singer, writer and Nobel laureate (1902–1991)
As long as people will shed the blood of innocent creatures there can be no peace, no liberty, no harmony between people. Slaughter and justice cannot dwell together.
—Isaac Bashevis Singer, writer and Nobel laureate (1902–1991)
I don’t hold animals superior or even equal to humans. The whole case for behaving decently to animals rests on the fact that we are the superior species. We are the species uniquely capable of imagination, rationality, and moral choice – and that is precisely why we are under an obligation to recognize and respect the rights of animals.
—Brigid Brophy (1929–1995)
The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.
—Charles Darwin, English naturalist (1809–1882)