‘culling the herd’ – discriminate killing?
Before I continue writing this post, I want to say that I am simply sharing my observations, my research and the insights and conclusions I can make out of that. Personally, I don’t like to be moralistic and I come from a place of non-judgement about these matters. Don’t blame the messenger 😉
Take what you need and forget the rest!
‘Culling the herd’ is a touchy and morally hot topic in an age in which we have more power then ever to manipulate the biodiversity and, therefore, we have the response-ability to do it in a balanced way. ‘Culling the herd’ is a phenomena we see in biology in which you segregate desired from undesired characteristics from the organism. The etymological meaning of the word cull stems from the Latin word colligere, which in turn means to gather, collect, choose or select.
We don’t just do this with the animal and plant kingdom, but also with our fellow brothers and sisters. History tells us that many wars have been fought in the name of their god, or better said; fought upon their separation. A conflict is only possible when their exist separation between multiple parties, while we can question if this separation is truly present or merely an illusion we hold on too. War or conflict is only possible when we act out of a separated state, instead of acting from a state of oneness. You would not kill someone if you perceive the other as a part of yourself, since you will actually kill a part of yourself in that way. You can only create an enemy if you see the other as something unknown, dangerous and misunderstood. However, by learning to know the unknown, honour the differences of others, and understanding them until a point in which you can accept them unconditionally, is where peace, Agape and harmony can truly be experienced. This is not easy, as history shows us and the path of finding ‘unity within diversity’ is especially challenging in our world rich of diversity. Imagine yourself being attacked by someone hostile like Gandhi has been, and say to your attacker; ‘may god bless you’. Imagine how strong the feelings of fear, revenge and danger must have been for him while he was under attack, and still manage to stay centered and mastered over his body, mind and emotions. This level of mastery Gandhi has reached is within all our potential if we are willing to work on ourselves. He had the same tools we are offered, in which the only difference is the degree of work he used these tools on himself.
Dealing with challenges of separation can bring us huge territories of growth and understanding, since we don’t live in an ideal world to begin with. We need some basic necessities like water and food in order to keep our metabolic processes going and at the same time sharing this pie with the rest of humanity isn’t easy either. A big factor is that the current levels of alienation has caused us to feel disconnected with the wildness of nature and how to find the right relationship with it. Culling is, therefore, oftentimes accompanied with thoughts of indiscriminate killing out of greed and disrespect towards the animal. It is much easier to delegate the emotional troubles of killing an animal to a butcher machine then it is to do it by hand. Therefore, by feeling disconnected with the butcher process it is more likely to be indiscriminate, greedy and disrespectful to the animal.
Jaak Panksepp, one of America’s leading neuroscientists, concludes that both animals and humans have brains wired to feel emotions, and that animals have the capacity to experience pleasure and happiness from their lives. For this reason, there are those who believe that culling animals is morally wrong.
Some argue that culling is necessary when biodiversity is threatened. However, the protection of biodiversity argument has been questioned by some animal rights advocates who point out that the animal which most greatly threatens and damages biodiversity is humanity, so if we are not willing to cull our own species we cannot morally justify culling another.
As you see in the imagery, the duck is having some abnormalities like a malformed leg, a dirty eye and body, and is, therefore, pestered and picked upon by the rest of the herd. Whenever the duck tries to eat food the other ducks will pester him away. Animals are mostly driven by their instinctual centre, and this is simply how their nature is dealing with weakness. If someone is not functioning like normal in the herd, then why treat him like an equal? If someone is standing out in the herd then lets cut hem down to the level of the others. This is similar to how your immune system is attacking strange or unknown cells in your body in order to ‘protect’ and preserve the greater whole of your body. But is this really about protecting or more about normalizing and holding standards firmly put? This weak duck is not a burden to the herd, he puts nobody at risk, but is simply weaker then the others. This duck could even be a blessing when a fox will catch him first over the others. Heck, this duck might face a noble destiny and be a hero when it boils down to the longevity of the herd! Or is this duck really a burden and does it fall in the bracket of ‘useless eaters’ people like Hitler used in their speeches. Was Hitler right in his view that Jews put the rest of humanity in great risk? Of course not, many Jews were actually very educated, worthwhile and respected in their societies.
It is interesting that we can extend this phenomena in biology in other disciplines like sociology, and it can tell us much of how our reality is formed around biology and the influence it has on our psyche. If someone is not functioning well in a human community, and does not contribute or serve the greater whole of that community, you have an social imbalance and the system will break down eventually if too many go against the interest of the greater whole. ‘Culling the herd’ might not be the most enlightened approach to solve this problem… This is similar to how cancer grows in our body, we all have cancer cells, but it only becomes dangerous when there are too many of them that threaten the survival of the body or the greater whole. You see that a lot of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ games can be played around such concepts, which I am not eager to partake in. Instead I am just pointing out imbalances and share insights that might re-balance them.
Human nature isn’t much different then the ducks in how we often select our loved and hated ones based upon sexual characteristics, status and social circles. Oftentimes we are unconsciously driven by our animal nature and make decisions based upon the need for pro-creation, fear for survival and the risks of danger. Our body is a survivor and keeps us alive during the most extreme situations. Just like all other sentient beings, which we share the planet with, are we also challenged by our animalistic nature and all the behaviour that stems from it. The difference is that we have a choice in finding mastery and stability in the body-mind dynamics in our live so that we are not enslaved but learn to enjoy and use our embodiment in harmony with others. This is something I hope to provoke in sharing ideas about achieving this self-mastery during my own journey along this path, since I believe it is an universal challenge to do this.
Picking out the weak, sick and ugly out of reasons for survival isn’t the most enlightened approach to treat each other. It is surely not the best solution for the challenges we have, and if we continue down this path, we will never climb out the trappings of our own animal nature and evolve ourselves and our societies. Nothing wrong with a little bit of tough love to initiate those who victimize and pity themselves in their misery, but to ‘cull the herd’ unto them is one league to far and a lesson we should have learned from the world wars. Oftentimes, we are not governed by believes of genetic limitation or inclination and this is something the epi-genetic (above genetic) movement is now promoting. Even if you are sick, weak or ugly, there are many ways to become stronger and to reach your fullest potential as a sentient being sharing the planet with others.
All the best,