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A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine. March's Theme: "Pets"
Volume 4 Issue 3 ISSN# 1708-3265
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No Animals Allowed
by David Suzuki PhD

The sign in the shopping mall said, "No animals allowed." As I read it, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. It reflected a failure to admit or unwillingness to acknowledge our biological nature. We are animals and have a taxonomic classification: Kingdom - Animalia, Phylum - Chordata, Class - Mammilia, Order - Primates, Family - Hominidae, Genus - Homo, Species - sapiens.

Our reluctance to acknowledge our animal nature is indicated in our attitude to other animals. If we call someone a worm, snake, pig, chicken, mule or ape, it is an insult. Indeed, to accuse someone of being a "wild animal" at a party is a terrible insult.

As more and more people live in human-created environments of cities, our connection with nature and our biological needs become less apparent. It is easy then to believe the illusion that our way of life is made possible by the economy. Indeed, I've often been told, "We can't afford to protect the environment if the economy isn't strong and growing."

Our food reflects our separation from nature. We want it free of blemishes, polished with waxes, or colour-enhanced with dyes. I well remember when I was a boy in the fall when my mother would sit with a basket of apples cutting out the larvae before cooking the fruit. We didn't mind sharing the fruit with another species, but today we find that intolerable as we drench our food with fungicides, insecticides and herbicides. We attempt to eliminate all traces of blood, fur, feathers or scales in our food. The ultimate achievement is processed foods which bear little indication of the biological origin of their contents.

Yet check out the label on a can of mushroom soup - mushrooms, corn starch, vegetable oil, buttermilk, cream, wheat flour, whey protein, spice, yeast extract, garlic - a lot of other species that make up that can. Every university student should know the biological content of Kraft dinner - macaroni, whey, cheddar cheese, butter, buttermilk, enzymes, food starch. Every bit of the food that we consume for our nutrition was once alive. Indeed, botanist Margaret Crouch says our relationship with food is the most intimate relationship we have with another being. Not only do we take it into our mouths, we pull it apart and incorporate the molecules into our own bodies.

Where does air come from? From the moment we leave our mother's body at birth to our last gasp on our deathbed, we need air every minute. And that air that is so vital to our survival and well being isn't something made by human ingenuity, it is created and maintained by the web of green things on this planet.

In Vancouver, BC, water is filtered by old-growth rainforests lining the sides of three watersheds. Their roots, soil fungi and microorganisms, all filter out material so we can boast of some of the best water in the world. Our food grows in soil which is created by life. Before life on earth evolved, there was no soil, only dust, clay, sand, silt and gravel. To get soil in which we grow our food, we need countless generations of life forms to grow and die and release their molecules to the surrounding matrix. And to this day, it is not industry who creates soil, it is the life forms in the soil. All life on earth needs energy to grow, move and reproduce and for all animals, that means sunlight which is captured by plants through photosynthesis.

My point is that when we become estranged from the natural world, we forget our own biological nature and our dependence on a rich, diverse community of life forms all around the planet. So the next time you encounter a no animals allowed sign, ask the proprietor how he or she will make a living because as an animal, you're out of there.

David T. Suzuki PhD, the Chair of the David Suzuki Foundation, is an award-winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster. David has received consistently high acclaim for his thirty years of award-winning work in broadcasting; explaining the complexities of science in a compelling, easily understood way. He is well known to millions as the host of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's popular science television series, The Nature of Things. Take the Nature Challenge and learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org

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