Pets are the opiate of speciesism

By John Carbonaro
[The opinions expressed in these essays do not necessarily reflect the position of ARAUNY.]

We gain physical and emotional pleasure from our attachment-intake.  We gain cerebral comfort and pleasure from our singular pet-relationship focus.

They supply a sense of balance and connection between us and the world of other animals. We can then tell ourselves that we ‘love animals’ in a global, diffused way despite our different treatment of them.  They fill the cognitive-emotion gap between us and our ‘other’ treatment of animals.

They help us forget (to think about) the pain we cause to other animals. When other animal’s situations cause us pain, we seek comforting distance by engaging with our pets.

Through this viscerally induced perception-gratification we never have to venture out of our inner dwelling and see the world (of exploitation) as it really is.

We only see the ‘best of ourselves’ mirrored in them via their ‘unconditional love’ and joy.

Our love affair with pets keeps us and them co-dependent on multiple levels. We cannot ‘let go’ and see them or ourselves as whole individuals .The withdrawal pain is too great, the pleasures too convincing.

We shut off critical thinking and our ability to see and control our decisions about animal exploitation. This action is rewarded by a dose of neuroleptics when we hug our pets.

These same neuroleptics are engaged when we eat animals. We are rewarded when we shut off personal responsibility and self-control. To be clear, in all cases of using animals we first induce a state of cut-off (from logic & empathy), and then induce a secondary state of neuroleptic bliss with actual intake (hugs or flesh).

The pets are not causing these sensations. They are stirred within us through a conditioned altered state we went through in our early development.

During our early ‘social gestation’ we are injected with ideological ‘drugs’ that altered our state of consciousness, our connections, and our natural empathies for animal others.

We are numbed, disconnected, and disabled from the start. We are conditioned to avoid experiencing this as painful by obtaining an ongoing pleasure fix from domestically-dependent ‘pets’, to keep us and all animals isolated, disempowered and dependent.

The rich ‘opiate’ patriarchs, who continue to benefit from our exploitative/exploited dependency, keep us transfixed by gratifying our totalitarian compliant (species-ist) thinking and behavior throughout our lives.

We enjoy the subjective pleasures we get from using animals. It is all a form of narcissistic pleasure. Pets close the relationship ‘gap’ that would allow us to stand back and see how our induced, dependent, and narcissistic exploitation is draining life, causing immeasurable suffering, and driving the world into further illness.
We cling to these petified lives until the very end, seeking these comforting, yet closed relations. We leave behind the next generation of humans holding onto their lives and holding (hostage) the lives of all non-petified animals.  We must learn to obtain ‘healthy’ love and gratification from within, through actions that restore true balance.

We must see all animal others as the true individuals that they are, not as a means for gratifying ourselves.

One would think that our love connection to petified animals would be a gateway to recognizing all animals as individuals (on a more frequent basis). How is it that people can have chickens as pets and still see chickens as food?  Like infants born addicted to drugs, our developing minds take in (and get addicted to) the social norms within the loving parental bond. Our inner cohesion has outer socially-injected scaffoldings. I believe that when those scaffoldings are rattled via animal advocacy, it is experienced by an individual as a potential (personal) dissolution. Indeed, many vegans do mourn the losses that come with the withdrawal from socially/ideologically bonded attachments, but with support and a new sense of health, they do find balance, strength, and ground.

We must take care of the current refugees of speciesism. We can provide them the love and respect that they deserve as all animals do. The ones in our care may love us back, but we must use that to champion their freedom from our addiction.