A familiar and pungent smell entered my nostrils as I left the woods behind me. ‘Chickens’, I thought. Then I connected the smell to the enormous green buildings I saw on the other side of the field. As I came closer, I could not only smell them, but also heard their muffled chuckling. I counted 2, 3 and there behind 4, 5, 6 sheds. No windows, only air pipes coming out underneath the roof. How many chickens would I smell? 10.000? 20.000? 50.000? I had no idea. (Only later I learned Dutch companies have an average of 80.000 chickens). I saw a man walking out of one of the doors and I wanted to shout to him “murderer!” “killer!” “beast!” “how daaaare you!?!?” But I didn’t. Instead I sent some compassionate thoughts to the chickens and continued walking.
When I calmed down, I started to contemplate this: how are we able to turn chickens into products? How are we humans able to numb our feelings and see beings for things? How do we switch off our connection mode and why? How do we stop being a part of life and recognizing life in everything around us?
Why in heaven’s sake did we create a culture where it is ‘right’ to lock up chickens, and ‘wrong’ to be naked in a forest? Why do we say it’s ‘allowed’ to fertilize our potatoes with toxins and ‘forbidden’ to grow them in our front yard? This is not a f*ck-this-bull-shit-society article, but a sincere investigation in ‘how?’. How do we do it?
As I am studying Wilhelm Reich’s character structures, I also recognize character structures in cultures. The Spaniards, for example, adopted the Psychopathic/Aggressive pattern. It’s common in Spain to blow up your chest a little whilst walking the streets and challenge your friends to a charismatic battle of ‘who is the best’. Here in the northern countries, we adopted the Rigid pattern. We love rules. We have very straightforward ideas about what is right and what is wrong and how me and everybody should live their life.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with rules. However, when the rules have a rigid character, they have a tendency to become exclusive. You SHOULD be doing this, or else you are WRONG. It has no openness for new, for different thinking, it is not flexible. It keeps things tight, in a certain order, and wants to keep control. There is no place for feeling, or for deciding in the moment. Everything should be able to fit in the same designated boxes.
A rigid culture raises rigid children, for rigidity is educated. And there is no ill-will here, the rigid-thinker fully believes he’s on the right track. This is what he knows and it works, so there is no problem. He does not feel what he is missing, because he’s never felt. The rigid is thinking-based, not feeling based. And here lies the answer to my desperate ‘how!?’.
We can lock up 80.000 chickens, only if we tell ourselves that it is right. “How else am I gonna eat? I like chicken.” We cannot feel in our being, the torment that we bring to these animals. We cannot feel our being. And this carries much further than our food-produce. Our entire culture and society are built upon a rigid foundation. A foundation that is based on safety through control of the mind. The mind is all we know and all we trust. And if something goes wrong, we must have made a mistake. There is no connection to the greater good, to the essence of once’s own life or of life in the wider perspective. We have forgotten how to be human, and this is the deepest pain of our time.
We have betrayed our own hearts, for we have forgotten to come from love. We have forgotten how to feel safe in love. This is a deep pain, and it is important to create awareness. For what we do now is criticise each other and mainly ourselves. We are unkind to ourselves, and thus to others and the world. I do believe it is in our nature to be kind, and in our culture to be cruel. We learned to keep our wild side hidden under strict regimen and forgot who we are in essence.
My question to you is: are you willing to become human? It’s not a question everyone is able to say yes to. For you’ll feel your heart, and there is pain there. Are you willing to feel it all? The love and the hurt, your yes and your no? For only when you intend to connect to the core of your own being, can you make decisions that are not rule-bound, but heart-bound. Then you will feel how you want to be in this world, regardless if it is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. Regardless if it is ‘true’ or ‘false’, you will be able to live your truth. And likely you’ll stop eating industrialized chicken, just saying...