Mary Pat (@mpchampeau) is the director of graduate programs at the Institute for Humane Education (@HumaneEducation & humaneeducation.org) & faculty at Antioch University. Mary Pat has been in the field of education since 1979 when she began teaching as a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger. Before joining IHE, she worked in refugee camps in Asia & supervised culture & language programs for the World Trade Institute in New York.
In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?”
01:12 Mary Pat’s Intro
- Humane Ed Grad Prog. One of the only graduate level social justice progs that includes non-human animal protection (w/human rights & environmental justice)
- A place where people can be who they are with respect to non-human animal ethics. Without apology
- Humane Education’s focus on exploring questions that are central to Sentientism
- “This is the next level… when are we going to open our circle of compassion – to humans we’ve never met – to animals…?”
- Expanding both our compassion & our role in the world
- Why do so many people committed to social justice / intersectional perspectives / resisting all oppressions struggle to consider non-human sentients?
- Systems thinking & how oppressions (& solutions) interlink. From lose-lose-lose to win-win-win?
10:00 What’s Real?
- “Hardcore, long-term, recovering Catholic”
- Growing up in Buffalo, NW in a large Irish Catholic family
- Catholic schools & public schools (per George Carlin)
- “We kind of looked down on the ‘publics’ because they were going to hell”
- “The 1960’s never really touched us”
- Taking a world religions course
- Reading “The Religions of Man”. Catholicism was only one of the religions! “Why is Catholicism even in this book?”
- Peeking out of the nest for the first time
- Living in muslim communities in Niger. “I could totally relate” because of the parallels with Catholicism
- Rejecting Catholocism but being grateful for the vocabulary
- Religious beliefs (angels, devils, god…) as “iconic representations of our psyche”
- The human impact of the story of Christ. Finding spirituality in adversity
- Easily rejecting & working against the negatives of religious (& non-religious) worldviews (sexism, racism, homophobia…)
- Are religions slowly evolving towards more modern humanistic/sentientist ethics?
- People rejecting evidence & reason because “it’s an obstacle to their afterlife in the magical kingdom”
- The deep human needs re: religion. Can we meet them in naturalistic ways instead?
- The dangers of scientific essentialism “Look where science was 200 years ago… using leaches!”
- Religion’s role in war
35:57 What (& Who) Matters?
- Nihilism, relativism, deontological rules, deity compliance…
- I don’t like suffering, I’m pretty sure you don’t. Morality is my choice to care about that
- Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land” – “he sees all these amazing animals… & can’t believe people eat them”
- Stopping eating meat at 17 in the 1970’s, but not knowing any veg*ns “I just ate potato chips & apples”
- “It put me in the realm of questioning other things – like gender equity”
- “Trying to conserve the status quo was a death”
- Exploration, discovery, travel (Africa, Asia, Europe), “sticking it to the man”
- Having to be “supple” to navigate different cultures & understand history (e.g. colonialism)
- “I didn’t even know the word vegan until the late ’80s”
- “Going wider is a way of sidestepping… It’s easier for people to talk about the whole earth… than actually doing the moral investigation…” into how humans treat non-human sentients
- Many people just aren’t ready to change. “They know if they really look at it – they’ll have to”
- “We don’t have to buy into this idea that you can’t care about one thing as opposed to the other”
- “It’s the same systems” driving multiple oppressions. E.g. animal farming & climate change
“What is it we’re sustaining?”
01:00:11 How Can we Make a Better World?
- Humane Education! “Why didn’t I think of this?”
- “Why do we not use schooling to give kids the information they need to help themselves, other humans, animals & the environment thrive?”
- “We’re in a big transition right now”… that’s why some are pushing back
- Endless learning
- Decentring humans, but recognising our power/privilege & using them
- Risks of ecofascism “Humans bad, nature good”
- Compassion for ourselves & other humans. “Embrace the joyfulness of this path”
Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at Sentientism.info.
Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. The biggest so far is here on Facebook. David and I are already there!
Thanks Graham for the post-production.