Gill Coombs

“Being in balance with ourselves and the biosphere” – Author Gill Coombs – New Sentientist Conversation

Gill is an author, coach & counsellor. She was a UK parliamentary candidate for the Green Party. She focuses on helping people live in balance with themselves & the rest of the living world. Her books include “The Trembling Warrior”, “Hearing our Calling” & “The Game”.

In these Sentientist Conversations, we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?”. Sentientism is “evidence, commitment & compassion for all sentient beings.”

The audio will also be on our Podcast – subscribe on Apple so you don’t miss it: (& most other platforms).

We discuss:

  • Leaving the corporate world to focus on “what really matters”
  • The nature of meaning in work (“Hearing our Calling”), personal activism (“The Game”) & being a sensitive idealist (“The Trembling Warrior”)
  • The resilience of undercover slaughterhouse investigators
  • Growing up Christian (CoE/Quaker)
  • Not meeting other kids until school & forming relationships with nature
  • Is having a “soul” similar to being sentient – a reflection of unique experience?
  • Recognising that non-humans have their own experiences & value
  • Benchmarking other living things against humans
  • Stepping away from Christianity but retaining a sense of an unknowable transcendence/the transpersonal
  • Distinguishing between naturalism as “what we know” & as “what is conceivably knowable through evidence and reason”
  • The supernatural as being completely inaccessible through evidence
  • The abitrariness and dogma of believing without evidence
  • Naturalism doesn’t mean ignoring emotion & personal experience
  • Spiritualism as an escape route from the trauma of reality
  • Subjective perspectives as part of one objective universe
  • Finding common ground between the rational & the emotional
  • Respecting different perspectives without succumbing to nihilism & relativism (giving up on reality and morality)
  • Parental kindness & “be kind” as a grounding moral principle
  • Humans are baffling!
  • Schumacher College
  • Systemic, economic & social norm causes of harm
  • How the animal farming industry wants to hide the reality from consumers
  • When people find out the truth about animal farming, they do care
  • “Free range” & “organic” as traps that allow “ethical animal product consumers” to keep causing needless harm & death
  • The “natural” cycle of “life eating life” & humans deciding that owning non-human animals is OK
  • Does a sentient being suffer any less because it’s killed “naturally” or “with respect” or “in balance”?
  • Human categories used as justifications for causing harm
  • Taking the perspective of the sentient being that is being harmed
  • The potential for common ground against factory farming
  • The end of animal farming
  • Mitigating wild animal suffering
  • Is slaughter in a factory farm more or less wrong than killing a “happy” animal?
  • It’s individual beings that suffer, not species
  • Environmentalism as another form of anthropocentrism
  • Testing our animal ethics by applying it to human ethics (toddler farming?)
  • Does plant/fungi communication and complex behaviour imply sentience? Does a cut hedge suffer as much as a pig in a farrowing crate?
  • Is focusing on sentience another human-centred conceit?
  • The need for prudence & humility
  • Even if plants are sentient you still need to #GoVegan
  • Addressing climate challenges by respecting non-human life

You can find Gill at and on Twitter at @CoombsGill.

Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” You can find out more at Join hundreds of others on our “wall” using this simple form.

Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our community groups. Our main group is here on FaceBook.

Thanks to Graham Bessellieu for his post-prod work on this video. Follow him at @cgbessellieu.

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