5 Questions

Esther Woolfson

23 September 2020

1) Tell us about Between Light and Storm?

‘Between Light and Storm’ is a book about how we treat the other species with whom we share the planet and why we treat them as we do. It’s a book about the history of these long relationships and the ideas which have formed our behaviour and attitudes. It’s a book about callousness and—too often—cruelty but it’s about compassion and the deep love we may feel for other creatures too.

2) Have people always felt superior to animals?

No, they haven’t. It’s impossible to know with certainty how people of the distant past felt or what they believed—we can only interpret the evidence but they clearly had intimate knowledge of the other lives around them and from all available evidence, it seems that that they felt respect, fear and even reverence for other species.

3) Has religion fuelled a sense of division between humanity and nature?

‘Religion’ itself hasn’t done it—there are plenty of belief systems which hold particular animals to be sacred, or which prohibit the taking of the lives of animals. The monotheistic religions created the divide—if you believe that, as a human, you are ‘made in the image of God’, you’re going to have a distorted view of your place in the world. If you’re told that other species are there specifically for you to exploit, the consequences are inevitable.

4) How would you seek to persuade someone that people are not superior?

I’d suggest that they look at the evidence of climate change and the ecological disasters which are unfolding around us. If we’re so superior, why are we the only species destroying their only home? Sars-CoV2 is a very good example of the fact that our ‘superiority’ is fictive—although the possibility of its happening has been predicted for years, we failed to take the necessary action to prevent it.

5) Would our world be reshaped if we rethought are relationship with other creatures?

It would—if we regarded other species’ habitats and lives as important as our own, we might stop destroying the planet.