Tovar Cerulli, author of The Mindful Carnivore: A Vegetarian’s Hunt for Sustenance, which has earned praise from hunters, ecologists, and vegetarians alike, gave an informational keynote speech at the 65th General Assembly of the CIC.
To ensure the future of hunting, we must, of course, ensure its sustainability in terms of wildlife populations and habitat. One of the overarching stories I often hear from hunters is that we are under attack and increasingly isolated. And there is truth in that story.
If we are accustomed to thinking that our values and our critics’ values are fundamentally opposed, and to defending ourselves against them, seeing them as enemies who must be defeated, then it is difficult to imagine other possibilities. It is difficult to see that hunters and hunting remain deeply connected to the rest of the world. It is difficult to see that our values and our critics’ values are often rooted in the same core ideas, including respect for the land, for animal welfare, and for the sacredness of life.
Most of us—like most of our broader societies and cultures—tend to think we can convert people to our way of seeing, by beating them over the head with facts and rational arguments. There does not seem to be much evidence that this is true.
I want us to create and protect social and cultural habitats in which hunting can thrive. To do that, we need to tell much more powerful stories: Stories that resonate with deeply and widely shared values. Stories that convey our respect for animals and for the larger natural world. Stories that illustrate how deeply relevant and connected hunting, and we as hunters, remain to the changing world we inhabit.