Response to Letter from the Parrot Nations
Rev. Dr. LoraKim Joyner
Parrots of many nations, thank you for your gracious vision on how we humans, along with you, must get at the roots of oppression that threaten us all so that we can gain coliberation. I have worked for liberation alongside you my entire life, and it is so much harder than simply choosing to join the parrot nations. It requires great courage and engagement, from which I have often fled. Why would anyone of us take our heads out of the sand or storm that beach only to take on any more work, stress, guilt, or shame than we already carry? I answer this with my own aching heart, and I suspect yours as well. As Bryan Stephen writes, “I believe that on the other side of confession is liberation.”15 So, let us share our stories of how we all are caught in the system of domination, power over, and oppression. We will not compete as to who has more worth depending on our behavior, but we will listen and take the hands, paws, wings, fins, and hooves of all as we strengthen our multispecies communities
Stevenson goes on, “We are all broken by something. We have all hurt someone and have been hurt. We all share the condition of brokenness even if our brokenness is not equivalent. The ways in which I have been hurt—and have hurt others—are different from the ways others l suffered and caused suffering. But our shared brokenness connected us. But simply punishing the broken or the breakers--walking away from them or hiding them from sight--only ensures that they remain broken and we do, too.” There is no wholeness outside of our connected animality, which says that our very life comes out of the commonality of evolution and oppression.
I am with you feathered liberationists that we cannot be free, or free others, until we talk about the brokenness that connects us, until we talk of the abuse and use of ourselves and others in our culture of domination. We must talk of how all lives, and by all, I mean all species, have been harmed or imprisoned by our lack of creative imagination of what freedom would like for all beings.
A life of freedom is being able to work at your own speed and choice for meeting your needs, and have the resources to choose freely. So many of the animals in our lives and around us do not have these choices. Where can we offer more freedom to the animals in our lives?
I know the tightness in the belly and in the mind when we speak of animal liberation and freedom for others. I recall how Peter Singer’s book, “Animal Liberation,” has probably caused more arguments than most any other book ever printed. It tied in racist and sexist views to actions of discrimination, and how this same process is at work in speciesism which allows us to think of others, of any species, as having inferior status. We see them not as individuals, but as objects and means to fulfill our desires. Who really wants the challenge of this task, to either have the conversation with others, or to be shamed or forced into changing our behavior, when we are unsure if anything we do will have any impact?
Thank you psittacines of the world for urging us to go forth, the outcome of our pursuit for mutual liberation unknowable. We don’t know what such a world would look like, but if we don’t’ look deep into the false girders that build walls to cage our own lives, we won’t invite the possible of what could be. The adjacent possible, writes Steven Johnson, "is a kind of shadow future, hovering on the edges of the present state of things, a map of all the ways in which the present can reinvent itself."16 The past and present prepare us for any number of futures. Depending on what groundwork has been laid and what ideas are floating around, certain new thoughts become thinkable. As Johnson suggests, "The strange and beautiful truth about the adjacent possible is that its boundaries grow as you explore them.”