Some of what we find replusive does not change over time. The UPENN psychology department offered a great non-credited course on "What Makes Something Gross"..In this course, we learned that things that we find disease-carrying beings and things like rats, saliva, mucous, feces gross to save our lives.
We are supposed to be repelled.
Stay away or pay the price.
These things have been gross to us, probably since man first picked up a rock and thew it at a rat eating his dinner.
I have noticed, however, behaviors we consider repulsive seem to evolve over time. They are less static and and are culturally dependent.
For example, I hope that everyone now finds the concept of slavery repulsive. Most members of our society have ruled out incest, abuse, and pillory. Though, genital mutilation and sex slavery among other practices still exists in the world.
I had a terrific professor in Paris who studies discrimination. He had us read early Supreme Court decisions from the 1950s which justified segregation. Beautifully written and beautifully reasoned decisions that were totally morally wrong. They argued it would be safer for everyone if we just kept buses, pools, and schools separate. It was mind baffling to think the brightest brains in the U.S. could be so misguided.
I asked the professor "Well, what are we doing right now that we will be totally repulsed by in 50 years"?
We decided it would be factory farming.
We will be totally disgusted with this idea of forcing animals into pens where they cannot move. Forks and Knives, Supersize Me, and others have raised awareness about these practices. We now have Cage Free eggs, happier beef, and maybe even giddy pigs.
I have been a vegetarian for over 20 years...It started because I loved animals and didn't like hurting anything. Now, I'm more okay with people using animals for food. But like Nicolas Kristof who wrote in A Farm Boy Reflects , it's the practices that bother me.
Perhaps increasingly so as I study genocide. I just cannot stomach violence the same way. In fact, on the plane they were showing a cooking show on how to make meatballs. To me it looked like human calf muscles.
Not that we're trying to kill an entire species, but after watching video after video of Jews being forced like cows into lines, into cattle cars and then into death chambers, I can't help but see the comparisons. Of course the intention is quite different; cows are at least seen to have value...well and we're not trying to kill all of them.
I hope we can turn this factory farming practice around.
It would be great if we could find better ways of treating our animals just because it seems like any move to reduce suffering on the planet is worthwhile.
I find the current Vegan Campaign in the DC area a bit silly. For example you have a chicken on the side of a bus saying "I need my wings more than you do. " This totally misses the point that the only reason they exist is that we raised them TO eat them. That chicken wouldn't be alive if he were not working for Purdue. The campaign doesn't make vegans look so smart. That's too bad.
. Where is Upton Sinclair..someone needs to write another version of The Jungle? Now that would be "Some Pig"!