Exploring the Social Imagination

Monday, March 7, 2016

Give Us Our Daily Bread in the Social Imagination!



First, what is a sentient being? A sentient being is capable of perceiving through the senses. In that case, there are many sentient beings. But, is that all that man is? I read a profound article in - Mother Earth News on "Teaching Youth the Cycle of Life." According to that article, is that most people don't know is that animals are not the only reservoir of sentience on our planet. As you read further, we learn that all of nature is pulsing with observations, language and adaptation. When sunflowers turn with the sun's path across the sky, that's sentience. When leaves change their chemical compositions to become less enticing to munching herbivores and bugs, that's sentience ~ (Mother Earth News).

Even custodial bacteria communicate as they guard every human cell; that's sentience ~ (MENs). In this incredible complexity of sentient design we could imagine we are know different than anyone or anything else. But, there is a hierarchy in this grand design and consumption of sentient beings is part of that. There are those that are aware of this and try to live accordingly; but its not just about not eating meat then; vegans too would have to be careful that they don't consume a sentient as they pull a carrot from the garden patch.

Men just don't follow the sun. We follow our hearts desire our inner voice and that means our inner social imagination which is supported by our wider social imagination as members of a group. We are much more than 'sentient' beings as in mere animals or plants or bacteria. Given that, there are still many people who think that plants and animals are nearly equal on the sentient level. So, what can we eat then or should we eat anything? Good question.

From the Christian perspective, we can argue that "Its not what you put into your mouth that matters, but what comes out of it" (Matthew 15:11)... this is more important in the social imagination. What I like the most in this article is that it recognizes and applauds people who are aware of the fact that man is a sentient being who consumes sentient beings. They recognize that man has been given dominion as in given  responsibility for his actions with regard to other sentient creatures. They express their awe regarding the depth and breadth of the mystery and majesty of life's grand choreography. For them, as we read, the harvesting of our food shapes our minds 'social imagination' and humbles it.

The article points that as long as the chain store is able to create a distance between us and our food source, we can never experience the true nature of sentient consumption and adding to that the true experience of the 'human' social imagination. Yes, sentient beings do consume. Its the way in which we 'human sentient beings' consume that is different from other sentient beings; we are to cherish what we consume and  give thanks.

Thus, is raising animals for mass processing ethical? Is it compassionate and are we really able to be grateful or just pleased that we bought it on sale? No, it is not ethical nor is it moral nor is it God's design as in plan.
Of course, one could retort that it does not matter what does into your mouth, but what comes out of it. Yes, that is an argument. However, we forget that we leave off the end part... what comes out of our mouth. Are we truly thankful that a sentient life gave its life for ours? Or again, are we just pleased to have bought that piece of steak on sale or at a popular restaurant? Even the vegan who munches on the carrot or treasures the full flavor of the organic rustic rye, do they realize that they should thanks? Are they careful about what comes out of their mouth that shows compassion and gratefulness to the Creator for their daily 'bread'?

Maybe... you do give thanks and you truly eat! Making man much more than a 'sentient' being.


And, know that man is not just a 'sentient' being... he is more than that. If we are sentients at all. Given that we are actually the biggest consumers of information, selected on the basis of what it means to us, not by our senses...though a smaller aspect of our being, we are information. Charles H. Cooley an American sociologist wrote that reality exists in the locus of the mind. 

One of the most amazing aspect of the social imagination that Cooley wrote about is that man's inner reality is just as real to him/her as anything outside of it. Man contemplates himself in the group and in the cosmos. He is not just a 'responder' to elements. As we contemplate the cosmos which is too built of information, we exchange that information which gives us meaning about who we are and our position in the universe. 

We are information and we exchange information, freely. This is the full understanding of the 'social imagination'. The exchange of information and what it means to us has a greater impact on our senses as it shapes and changes what/ how we see, smell and taste!  

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