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To Move Forward

Iridium's picture

       “Do we take plants’ right into full account?”

       My seminar professor raised this question in class for us to discuss. In my group discussion with Kat, we soon moved our focus from merely plant rights to the comparison between our attitudes towards animals and our attitudes toward plants.

During Thanksgiving break, I was in New York City meeting my high school friends. One was dressed in Canada Goose jacket, and another one was going to buy one that afternoon. In the meantime, there was a protest against Canada Goose held by animal rights protesters in Manhattan. Animal protesters argued that plucking feathers from geese are cruel practices that producers should stop producing goose down jackets and consumers should stop buying that kind of jackets.

Since the reading material due to this class, LeGuin’s Vaster than Empires, and More Slow, we put the account that plants are sentient as precondition. My group partner Kat mentioned about vegetarians, who refuse to eat meat because they think eating animals are too brutal. So we apply this reason to plants. We utilize plants from all the use all the time. We use them to eat, to make paper and furniture, to fabricate clothes, and etc. The way we use them is not as simple as plucking feather from geese, but we kill plants’ life. Even when a fruit is picked from the branch and prepared as food, a new life has been deprived of hope. Where are the plants’ life protesters?

A small number of animal protesters are condemning a pretty large number of human do not care much about animal life. They are holding the reason that something human have done to animals are too cruel. But when we all have done much more cruel and more frequent thing to plants, no one stands out and argues to stop it. Someone may say that because plants do not have nerves and sensory, they are lack of the sensory of pain, so we are okay. But do plants really not have “sensory” or we not discover their “sensory” yet?

Human will make a push on development when either one of these two things happening: having a discovery or correcting an error. Small discovery or small correctness makes small push; huge discovery or huge correction makes huge push. In conclusion, our history is made up of discoveries and correction. We never know if we are wrong until the evidence pops up and proves the known knowledge as wrong. As a result, how are we so sure about the cognition that plants do not have nerves as we animal do and we decide they are not sentient?

In Buddhism, every object has a soul. Buddha found the balance between all the lives so he reached Enlightment. Human should not merely look at themselves any more, or themselves with animals, but they should also broad their views and include all the objects under consideration. We think we are equal to all the objects in the world when we share similarities that we are sentient beings.

So far, there have been many experiments showing plants are sentient to the outside world and able to deliver one’s sensory to another body to communicate. In the meanwhile, many skeptical voices to the acuteness of those experiments are also not ignorable. Since there are not a large quantity of people interested in this field, economical issues, and limited time, when the argument are ended in the deadlock, time will weaken the interest of people and gradually they will not be as seriously about the result as before. Even if we prove plants are sentient, what can we do next in response to this shocking phenomenon? Apologize for our brutality?

We have a lot more to do than apologizing. When animal protesters are protesting the practice, scientists are looking for inspirations from animals. Planes were invented with imitation to bird, swim fins were invented with imitation to ducks, Electronic frog eyes were from frogs, and rockets were from jellyfish, etc. I am not rejecting the protesters practices, but compare to what scientists have done, obviously, that scientists achieved more either in technology field or animal protection field. Not to mention about technology field, but in animal protection field, such as modern transportations are invented, we do not need horse or other animals to send us elsewhere. Scientists make a lot more meaning than protesters who only try to inform people what to do and what not to do. So why not maximize the effect of contribution to the society? If more people can see what is behind the animal rights issue and they are willing to get involved into the study, the speed of technological output will be a lot larger and people’s goal of protecting animals, or the most popular one recently, protecting our environments will come true soon.

Same reason can be applied to the study of sensory of plants. Since there are less people aware of plants’ rights and even more less scientists do research in that area, the need to fill this blank of knowledge stands more out. What will happen if we finally prove that plants are sentient and we master the skills of how they communicate?


Work Cited

Ursula LeGuin, Vaster than Empires, and More Slow.The Wind's Twelve Quarters: Short Stories.New York: Harper and Row, 1975.