Supreme Beings and a Sense of Entitlement

calf (1)For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world yet forfeit his soul? ~ Jesus of Nazareth, Mark 8:36 NIV

It is said that God has created man in his own image. But it may be that humankind has created God in the image of humankind. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

One of the most pernicious attitudes encountered is the sense of entitlement.  According to the DSM IV-R (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), the fifth criterion of Narcissistic Personality Disorder states:

has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations

Entitlement and Narcissism

Other characteristics of Narcissistic Personality Disorder include a a grandiose sense of self-importance (expects to be recognized as superior), interpersonally exploitative, lacking empathy, and demonstrating arrogant or haughty behavior towards others. There are other criteria as well, but these are relevant to our relationship with the animal kingdom.

I have been told by people who believe in a Supreme Being that animals are not allowed in the tent: they do not qualify for the “treat others as you wish to be treated,” or ” do not do anything to another you do not want done to yourself.” Somehow, they believe a Being may be supremely kind and benevolent to them and yet horribly cruel and insensitive to every other living being. This impacts not only animals, but other human animals as well —  whoever is The Other is outside the tent and unworthy of consideration.  Not long ago, people who thought they were good religious folks were refusing to let The Other human into the actual tent – they were not allowed in the restaurant or in the church because of the color of their skin.  There always seems to be The Other — currently  it is the homosexual in many fundamentalist faiths.  How could anyone believe that a very kind benevolent Being gave the world and all its animals to humans so they (only the few favored, special people) were entitled to destroy, consume, and obliterate every other species while billions upon billions of human and nonhuman animals suffer and die needlessly every single day? And yet think nothing of destroying the very creation whose creator they worship? Animals were given emotions like fear, terror, joy, just so they could become a corpse on a plate? Does it make sense a benevolent Being would subject them to that kind of torment just for someone’s palate, for their pleasure?!  If you are narcissistic, then you can believe it.

But it was no Supreme Being, it was YOU, Mankind, who perverted the natural order of things, (and me, too, because I am part of Mankind after all) who domesticated these animals into flesh factories so you could get them to grow flesh quickly, so quickly that their young developing bodies cannot support their frames, often leading to broken bones.  The tender young beaks which were so obviously designed to peck and the little perfect claws designed to scratch and the legs designed to run– mankind decided they had a better design in mind (talk about hubris!) Or the little snout meant to root out food, or the gentle small milk sac meant to feed their own young, now so grossly enlarged they look like a woman whose breasts are surgically altered for the porn industry, with engorged mammary glands that appear so tender and painful and encrusted udders from so much use and abuse, and all this while the cow is just a sweet young thing. And aftewards, there is the abattoir to face, all that terror and mechanized, depersonalized death, no one caring what that cow is feeling, no comfort for her, just turn her into steak so much of her body can be tossed down a garbage dsiposal because there are so many more like her to buy that there is no need to actually value even her corpse, her death.

So mankind began changing the game plan, injecting hormones and antibiotics and modifying genetics to pervert the natural order. How much respect can you have for a Supreme Being if you change everything in their game plan and destroy their earth? And then there are all those perfectly formed one day old chicks, those little yellow cheeping angels of creation, so often used as the basis for stuffed animals and baby’s room decor, so harmless and sweet, chirping so their mother knows where they are…lets toss them down the chute to the industrial mascerator and be done with them, because we have such respect for the natural order of things, for the creation we were given, for life itself.

Responsibility or Exploitaton?

There is no humane slaughter; the advent of factory farming is just a bad system made uglier. But this sense of entitlement, that the whole thing is here for MY use, for MY pleasure, means every single bit of living entity is fair game. A rainforest? Plow it down, I want  a new palm oil grove, there are bars of soap and candy bars that demand it, kill off the animals, who cares? (But the rainforest is the lungs of the planet and the destruction means…….) Sell the animals to the exotic animal dealers, see it is win-win!  Drill, baby, drill. Make the locals pay for water and make it illegal to save rainwater! Invade, injure, destroy; keep the masses involved with meaningless rhetoric so they won’t notice what is going on behind the curtain.  Because what is going on behind the curtain is very, very disturbing.  It is the rapid deconstruction of millions of years of gentle growth and change, the permanent end to Life As We Knew It. And it cannot happen without an overblown sense of entitlement. Without it, we would reinstitute a sense of the sacred.  Without it, we would begin to value life in all its forms. Without it, we would consider ourselves part of life, and not the recipient thereof, requiring a sense of consideration before we walk into the habitat of another, whether in the rainforest or the ocean. Without it, we would consider the responsibility to others, not the exploitation of them.

Cultural Narcissism

Narcissism and sociopathy share traits, including  a lack of empathy. Narcissism allows the person to detach from concern for others and allows them to focus solely on their own desires and needs.  People with these disorders are usually experts at manipulation, denial, and callous disregard for the consequences resulting from their choices and behavior.

Trademarks of Narcissistic Personality Disorder are:

  1. inflated self-importance
  2. deflation of importance of others
  3. lack of empathy for others
  4. a sense of entitlement
  5. interpersonally exploitative*

As a society, we have behaved in similar fashion in our treatment of animals. Every imaginable excuse, justification and denial have already been expressed; they all represent a horrendous injustice.

Profile of the Anti-Vegan

Have you ever noticed that people who promote peace always attract hate?  John Lennon, Martin Luther King, Gandhi – all their lives were ended by violence when all they ever promoted was peace.  Anyone, though, that suggests change, even very gentle and positive change, threatens the status quo, and that can be very frightening for many people; it evokes anger in response to fear.  As a non-violent vegan, I have come to expect it.

I am a student of human behavior. When I was younger, I thought being a therapist would be hell itself – who would want to listen to people fight and kvetch all day? But when I was attending university, I took a class about the theory of psychotherapy that was intriguing, and I was hooked. I pursued my studies with an emphasis on political science, English and psychology – all designed to help me learn to change the system, communicate effectively, and understand human behavior. By the time I was in graduate school, I had left my study of earth and geology behind and majored in clinical psychology. It was not an easy course, emotionally. But never boring.