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Binding change

Occasionally we hear of customs, practices, laws or traditions that surprise, shock or even sicken us. I’m thinking of things like Japanese whaling, women not being allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia or genital mutilation in Afghanistan. So things like these being (a) out of our jurisdiction and (b) out of our understanding take a long time to change. Foreign influence and values can apply pressure, but for change to happen, education has to come first, then the groundswell of support, before finally the unstoppable wave of change. But for that change to actually occur (in this or anything), the most important thing has  to be the desire to change.

The ancient Chinese practice of feet binding had been practiced for 2000 years until it was only officially made illegal only a hundred years ago.


Young girls would have their feet bound forcing their toes to fold over, permanently disfiguring them to leave them looking much smaller, pointier and therefore more ladylike. Basically, if you were a woman and had small feet you were beautiful, and if you didn’t you weren’t. Parents believed if their daughters had big (well, regular) feet would mean they’d never find a husband.

Thankfully it’s not done anymore, but cultures around the world all have their things that in 100 years (or more) will be seen as barbaric, cruel, insane or just plain dumb. And once they change, they’ll never go back. I don’t know what our thing will be (the our here refers to western culture) but if I were a betting man² I’d say one of them will be zoos being animal prisons.

A zoo’s a great place to go see a whole bunch of furry, feathery or fluttery creatures at once; it’s like going on a round-the-world safari, all for around 40 bucks. But with growing education, increased biological research and support for greater animal rights, zoos are going to become purely focused on conservation¹, research and species reintroduction. Discussion and debate around captivity and tougher regulations is making it much tougher for unsatisfactory zoos to continue to exist or new ones to think about existing.

The opposition and groundswell of change is going to end with people in around a hundred years saying ‘what the hell were zoos?’ And it’ll never go back.


¹ Last year my wife and I went back to the Wildlife reserve in Israel where we first met working as volunteers. I almost got a tear in my eye when the Manager of the reserve told me it had closed down to the public and become solely dedicated to rescue, recuperation and reintroduction of animals back into the wild.
² And I sure as shit ain’t. One day I’ll write a MEGA hate-post about how toxic sports gambling (and gambling in general) is.