‘Speaking truth to power: understanding the dominant, animal-eating narrative for vegan empowerment and social transformation’

Posted on January 21, 2013


Today (21st January), an item was posted on the One Green Planet web-site titled ‘Speaking truth to power: understanding the dominant, animal-eating narrative for vegan empowerment and social transformation’, written by author Dr Melanie Joy.

‘… As vegans, our goal is not simply to get people to stop eating animals; we aim to bring about a revolutionary shift in social consciousness to transform a culture of violence and oppression to one of nonviolence and liberation. Our goal is to catalyze a revolution to change the course of history.

History is shaped not by weapons, or tyrants, or rebellions. History is shaped by stories. Beneath every oppression and every revolution are narratives that guide them: we cannot invade and take up arms against another without first believing the story that the other is our enemy who must be conquered, just as we cannot stand together in protest of violent invasions without believing the story that the war is unjust.

Dominant narratives are the stories told by the dominant culture; they define our reality and guide our lives like an invisible hand. And when the dominant culture is oppressive, so, too, are its narratives. Such narratives are fictions, constructed to delude people into supporting the dominant way of life even though that way of life runs counter to what they would otherwise support, and to silence the voices of people who seek to tell the truth. Thus, social change is made possible by those who challenge the dominant narratives, replacing fictions with facts by bearing witness to and speaking out against oppression. Revolutions that change the course of history are made possible by those who speak truth to power.

Learning from History: A Case Study of Feminism

Only by examining history can we hope to change its course, and there is much to learn from the revolutionaries who came before us. The twentieth-century feminist movement offers a particularly useful example.

Throughout much of the twentieth century, women were considered inferior to men and thus destined for a life of domestic servitude. Many women suffered lives of tedium and isolation, cut off from the vibrant social world around them, yet they obligingly submitted to their fate.

Then, in the 1960s, something happened. Women began talking with each other about their experiences, and over time, these conversations led to the establishment of formal discussion groups. And as more and more women shared their stories, they discovered that many of them were experiencing the same problems, such as being verbally and physically abused by their husbands. The women thus realized that they were not inferior; they were oppressed. Sharing their stories empowered women to speak out against their oppression – to speak truth to power – and helped launch the modern women’s liberation movement, a global movement that changed the course of history.

There are important lessons in this story for those of us who seek social transformation …’

Read the item and add your comment online at www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/speaking-truth-to-power-understanding-the-dominant-animal-eating-narrative-for-vegan-empowerment-and-social-transformation/


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