The statement Every Creature Must Kill to Survive is a cold, hard truth regarding the subsistence of all living entities. It is simply the basis of natural processes and organic substances because in order for something to be metabolized and digested for another's sustenance, it needs to first exist on some plane of the biological spectrum. Creatures cannot survive on rocks. Or dirt. Or dust. Or air. And despite what science fiction leads us to believe, any one-hundred percent artificial diet is not feasible because nature is an intimately connected cycle of birth, consumption, reproduction, and death. It is a network, rather than a ladder or hierarchy, which is why there is no top or bottom of the food chain. It exists ubiquitously, serving as the world's greatest equalizer.
If you had eggs for breakfast this morning, and those eggs were fertilized, then you partook in killing a chicken. Steak? You killed a cow. Fish? Dead because of you. Further, I am aware that many vegetarians and vegans believe their diet is inherently more ethical than a carnivore's, but I would point out that the grain, berries, fruits, vegetables, and nuts they consume are indeed living before they become sustenance. Drink coffee? Those beans grew because they were living things. So it is really relevant that they did not have eyes to look at us with as we killed them, with the intent of eating them?
A large part of modern consumer commercialism attempts to avoid this statement, or simply rhetorically justifies it's way around it. Well, eggs in the grocery store are not fertilized, right? However, that unfertilized egg is chock full of bacteria that you are wiping out when you cook and eat it. You may draw a sympathy line at bacteria, saying "They have no consciousness or pain receptors," and although you may be correct, that response is a red herring. In other words, it is answering a different question than the one raised. Something still had to die for you to gain sustenance.
Well you're just nitpicking, you may say.
Am I? Well then I never received the memo regarding the threshold between life forms and organic matter we should and should not give the time of day to. I am not saying I do not eat living things, or that you should not eat living things, or that any of us should feel bad about eating things that were once living. My point is that we ought to face the reality that in order to survive, we need to kill in some way, shape or form, either physically with our hands or economically with our wallets. (Subsidizing someone else killing our food for us so we do not have to see it.) No matter if we go to a super-healthy farmer's market, a commercial grocery store, or eat genetically modified "food", death still needs to happen to extend our life. We feed on death. We can only digest stuff that qualifies as food. That is what makes us whatever -vore we choose to be!
It think part of the unpopularity of this quote is due to the lack of distance between cause and effect: (Cause) Creatures must kill, (Effect) To survive. Due to the quote's simplicity and directness, it is very hard for a rational being to misinterpret the meaning, so people avoid it because it is such an uncomfortable premise. Since the cause and effect are so tightly linked, and because the topic is not socially palatable or polished, it is not going to be normal barber shop talk, or sittin'-on-the-porch talk, or coffee date talk, unless you are someone who lacks certain social sensitivities. (A minority I always applaud.) Many would call this statement grim or morbid, thus bypass it in "civilized conversation" for more lubricated, concrete content.
Call me crazy, but I do not call the quote grim or morbid at all, and not because I am a contrarian or social rebel. (I do not enjoy confrontation or heated debates anymore than others, so no, I am not just picking a fight to watch people squirm). It is just that I have come to terms with the quote because I read it even keel. In other words, due to the quote's socially-sensitive subject matter, I think people read and say it like this:
Every creature must KILL TO SURVIVE.
But I read it like this:
Ever creature must kill to survive.
Note the tonal difference? I do not focus on the killing aspect because due to the lack of distance between cause and effect, I read it as it is meant to be read: All as one clause. I do not focus on Creature, or Kill, or Survive, because in themselves their meaning is incomplete and not an accurate representation of the holistic clause. All the words together create an ideal which has validity, but due to the quote's ruthless candor, people will generally not allow themselves to take it as a complete ideal.
Thus, if the quote sounds Fascist or power-driven in any way, that is because you are breaking up the direct line of cause and effect. Get out of the way! Let the insight speak; it has much to say. It wants to teach us about nature and ourselves and our pasts and futures.
Hence, the quote is not about legitimizing senseless war. Pacifists argue that they do not want to kill or maim another because violence and destruction simply escalate problems, rather than create solutions. That is a sound political premise but leads to misguided evolutionary/biological premises when transferred over. Humans are not at the top of the food chain, and even though I tend to think vegans, vegetarians, and pacifists understand that, their health and overall subsistence is dependent upon ending another thing's life cycle to prolong ours. The truth is, and always will be, ugly. Some ways of prolonging our subsistence are certainly more balanced and long-sighted than others, but I am not here to argue which qualities and programs are inherently better. I am here to point out the stark truth that every creature must kill to survive, and to hopefully get the common person to integrate a guttural understanding into their daily lives.
What is the worst that can happen if we intimately embrace this statement? We take longer to determine if we want that extra glass of milk? We eat our apples more carefully, wasting less of the core? We eat the crust of our bread rather than discard it? If we use one tissue to blow our noses rather than two? I am not sure there is a legitimate detractor from integrating this quote into our daily lives. The only detractor I can think of is the social detractor experienced within those who are so emotionally unstable they cannot boldly face the reality which is already present in their daily lives. And, to cite the philosopher Kristhoffer, "If social-comfort is the only detractor, then that is not a good reason to continue that mindset and behavior."
Once again, we are a child of nature. It is our parent. The rest of nature are our siblings. Due to this, we can learn about ourselves through observing our siblings. Do you see any other species going on a hunger strike or abstaining from certain foods? No. They operate on survival, which is harsh, unforgiving, and dirty. While I am not suggesting that we outright stop shopping at grocery stores or washing ourselves or our food, I am suggesting that we lighten up our civilized sphincters to admit to ourselves that just like our natural siblings, 1) We need to kill things to survive, 2) Have been doing so for millenia, and 3) Will continue to do so. Whether or not we do it with our hands or with our wallets.
Finally, admitting this raw truth to ourselves will inform us that we are not bad people for doing so, either. That it is in our nature, as is being a creature with the capacity to understand our natural compulsions and bring them into proportion, rather than be ignorant to them and allow them to go unchecked.
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