By Published On: 30 April 2014235 words1.2 min read

Let me tell you a little story about cognitive dissonance:

My rescue beagle, Millie, is a hound, through and through. She sniffs every blade of grass on her multiple daily walks, and she keeps her eye on the neighborhood wildlife. If I could read her mind, I believe I’d find that she’d like nothing more than to get her teeth around one of the rogue squirrels that dart across the roads and yards around us.

This presumption is not unwarranted. Millie often will stop at a tree, staring up into its branches, body rigid. Her attention is fully focused on the latest squirrel to catch her attention, and she waits to see if it will move closer, or perhaps fall into her reach.

Today, my mother, having finally pried Millie from her guard post so that we could continue on our way home, pointedly told the dog “

[The squirrel] has as much right to live as you do.”

“Says the woman who eats meat,” I replied.

“Not a lot. Only sometimes.”

Where have I (or you, or all of us) heard that one before? And what exactly does a response like that mean? “Only a few animals have less right to live than I do.” “Squirrels and orcas and dogs and cats have more of a right to live than pigs, because salami.”

How do we break through the cognitive dissonance?

Photo credit: Alan Whitaker via Flickr

By Published On: 30 April 2014235 words1.2 min read

Let me tell you a little story about cognitive dissonance:

My rescue beagle, Millie, is a hound, through and through. She sniffs every blade of grass on her multiple daily walks, and she keeps her eye on the neighborhood wildlife. If I could read her mind, I believe I’d find that she’d like nothing more than to get her teeth around one of the rogue squirrels that dart across the roads and yards around us.

This presumption is not unwarranted. Millie often will stop at a tree, staring up into its branches, body rigid. Her attention is fully focused on the latest squirrel to catch her attention, and she waits to see if it will move closer, or perhaps fall into her reach.

Today, my mother, having finally pried Millie from her guard post so that we could continue on our way home, pointedly told the dog “

[The squirrel] has as much right to live as you do.”

“Says the woman who eats meat,” I replied.

“Not a lot. Only sometimes.”

Where have I (or you, or all of us) heard that one before? And what exactly does a response like that mean? “Only a few animals have less right to live than I do.” “Squirrels and orcas and dogs and cats have more of a right to live than pigs, because salami.”

How do we break through the cognitive dissonance?

Photo credit: Alan Whitaker via Flickr

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