We can’t thrive without safety. A popular illustration of our “hierarchy of needs” suggests that security of the body, resources, morality, our relationships, health, and property are required before we can creatively express our lives.
Even if a pyramid is an imperfect model, it’s intuitive that we require safety to thrive, create, to be inspired in and by life.
The message for policy-makers? Focus on basic well-being—beginning by ensuring we are all safe to attain it.
But government so often behaves the opposite way. As George Carlin said: "It's a big club and you ain't in it."
And this means security of employment, in relationships, and even physical safety is systematically withheld to many human beings by a few. This is what class looks like. And social control hems in those identified by various, intersecting categories. These might include creative people (the irony of that might be worth exploring, given creativity's spot at the top of the hierarchy image), homeless people, undocumented people, working-class people, people considered disabled, people of whatever is considered nonstandard sexuality, ethnicity, or skin tone. We could go on.
Providing safety doesn't mean wiping out risk. Self-actualization can involve plenty of risk. We’re primates, we’re mortals, and we’re never going to have risk-free lives. I'm OK with that reality.
But I also believe we can resolve to respect ourselves and each other. We can form a collective demand for basic sustenance for all. We can work to ensure that mutual aid, including provisions for universal health and education, is not derided as “snowflake nonsense” but is, rather, esteemed.
Safety is a basic foundation for community. This circles back: we need community to obtain a healing sort of safety. Consider:
- How will we defend ourselves against the results of our worst mistakes if we don’t work in communities to rethink what "the good life" involves?
- How will we have time to consider what a humanity that respects the Earth and its life looks like, if we're on a treadmill to pay debt, expected to dedicate our days to production for a company's profit, or in a field in which a select few are richly sustained while the rest are kept busy juggling precarious "gigs"?
And now, with a federal government hell-bent on repealing even modest curbs on inequality, it might seem absurd to suggest we can reverse destructive norms.
Political figures are actively weakening social safety nets and environmental awareness, and redirecting the resources which ought to support the well-being of human people, other living beings, and habitat.
One big question I’d hope to pursue through the Patreon studio is how we influence society to respect the biosphere; how we achieve protection of the other living beings and nature in the midst of political hostility.
Veganism and Dynamic Empathy
Vegans strive to transcend the myth of human supremacy. The ideal of non-exploitation also commits vegans to human-to-human kindness in dynamic, deliberate forms. And support for safe places. Making sure “hate has no home here” and empathy knows no borders.
But every day we read the news and it's always something. Not only are long-time U.S. residents being rounded up as they harvest food for grocery stores; they are even chased down in sanctuaries now. This news triggers in me the high-alert feeling I have when deer are chased down in refuges, such as my local nature reserve, Valley Forge National Historical Park.
Humans, it seems, have never understood what sanctuary means. Authorities have long thought it their job to menace certain groups of humans or other living communities. Insofar as this continues, humans are bullies.
While we need a different kind of collective imagination, and a different kind of educational philosophy, at the moment we need legal work too, whether for the cause of human justice or for animal advocacy, to defend basic well-being, basic safety.
We need to respect sanctuary, to make law that is itself a sanctuary.
This is a difficult time for animal-liberation philosophy and advocacy. So many humans are being caught in the menacing net, with many more living in fear of becoming the next targets. It will take stamina to advance any kind of liberation philosophy.
That said, this is a time when people may well be willing to understand the intersections of oppression and dig for their common root. Humans wouldn’t be “treated like animals” if we weren’t in the habit of treating animals meanly.
Thank you for weaving a safety net for me, so that I can keep weaving for others.
Love and liberation,
[Link to pyramid image source]