Author : Jordan Whicker

We’d been asking the wrong question all along.

It was first posed by some fringe intellectuals: “Do they feel pain?” Initial research showed that yes, stimuli that might be regarded as ‘painful’ would invoke any number of reactions that could be described as self-preservatory. The breadth of these reactions even raised some eyebrows in the academic world and garnered one or two op-ed pieces in some of the more liberal media outlets. Aside from the canonically expected mechanisms like flinching and defensive posturing, a whole subset of pheromonic and what could only be described as supra-neural – neural firings that existed within the organism but at the same time beyond it – illustrated the very depths of our ignorance on this particular topic.

Research continued at a snail’s pace after that point, funded mainly by the type of eccentrics who were likely to have read past the headline of the spattering of articles that actually made it to print. Yellow donate buttons nestled into homepage corners and direct appeals from a plethora of sites that together didn’t garnish one-thousandth the traffic of a celebrity gossip blog represented humanity’s devotion to the fledgling field. Not that this matters, necessarily, as even if we reallocated the entire budget of the Department of Defense and conscripted every biologist, chemist and physicist in the country would we have begun to ask the right question in time. A question that after the fact seems as clear as day and even easier to answer: “Do they feel anger?”

Yes, they do. We know that now.

For many thousands of years we have fine tuned our dominance over the beasts of the earth. Cows bred too fat and too apathetic to move at more than a trot. Pigs confined to one room prisons, their madness and that of those around them the only available distraction. Chickens that reach slaughtering weight before they have time to grow bored of their confinements. Although numerous, none of them ever posed us a threat.

We slipped, though. Let them into our neighborhoods, cultivated them in our parks and around our schools. Along our highways and surrounding our airports. There is nowhere safe left – nor was there anywhere that ever really was.

We all remember the morning that the trees awoke. Those few of us that still live, at least.

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