To not care.
Years back while running a nature connection program for kids, the following scene would play out on a regular basis:
A kid would screech or “eeew!” because of a close encounter with a small critter.
I would rush over in the hopes of shifting their perception from one of fear to curiosity, before an impulsive squish.
The first thing I would do?
Change the IT to a she/he by offering a name.
I’d casually say “Oh no silly, that’s just Jenny!” or Bob or whatever name popped into my head.
Giving the feared creepy-crawly a name instantly changed the dynamic of an unfamiliar IT to a friend they hadn’t met yet. Their shoulders would drop, their bodies would lower to the ground, and their eyes would open a little wider.
“Oh, really? Jenny, huh?”
Naming the IT gave the children a reason to respect and protect them from harm.
It wasn’t a magic pill to make an arachnophobic kid no longer terrified of spiders, but it isthe beginning of an important brain pattern shift. The distance between child and creature was immediately cut in half.
This tactic has been used with great success by hostage negotiators to humanize captives and increase their likelihood of survival.
Conversely, it was used in the holocaust to dehumanize the persecuted; take away their name, give them a number, and it was easier for soldiers to commit murder.
This is being done in the current genocide of the earth’s beings. When there are IT’s, they are a resource, a commodity with a monetary value. Take that away, and those lives are much harder to exploit without thought of consequence.
Some would argue we can’t humanize that which is not human.
Maybe, but we can familiarize them- shift them into an intimate family-like space.
This is what’s happening with technology- having names for our talking machines, like Siri and Alexa. Furthermore, A study reported on NPR found, once someone had named a robotic dinosaur, they were unable to smash it- It was no longer an IT to break, but a SHE to kill.
If “grammar is how we chart relationships through language, including our relationship with the Earth”,
Let’s start the healing process by making the subtle shift in how we speak about living beings, whether they’re rooted, feathered, furred, scaled, or otherwise. It may be a tiny change, but one that has the potential to positively alter the course towards healing our relationship with the only planet we have.