Nandita is the ED of Population Balance which works to address the impacts of human overpopulation & overconsumption on the planet, people & animals. She is the co-director of the Fair Start Movement, which works on legal & educational reform towards a sustainable & just family-planning model. As faculty with the Institute for Humane Education, Nandita teaches a course “Pronatalism & Overpopulation” about the pervasive pressure on women to have children & the impacts on them, families, non-human animals & the planet. Previously, Nandita worked as a high school physics & math teacher & an administrator in both the public & independent school systems as well as an engineer at Bombardier Aerospace. She has a B.Eng. (Aerospace Engineering) from Ryerson University, a B.Ed. from University of Toronto & an M.Ed. (Humane Ed.) from Antioch University.
In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?”
01:10 Nandita’s Intro
- Engineering to teaching maths/physics to studying & teaching at the Institute of Humane Education (animals, humans, environment)
- Pronatalism: The pressure to have children
- Population stabilisation
04:26 What’s Real?
- Growing up in a fairly liberal household in North-West India
- Moving every 3 years. “Wired to desire change”
- Following Hindu religious holidays & traditions
- Transactional religious compliance: fear-based & conditional
- Tribalism & superstition “It didn’t make a lot of sense to me”
- Moving to Canada
- Becoming non-religious was fairly straight-forward
- Dabbling in self-discovery & studying psychology: Realising “These pieces of my identity were for the most part socially constructed”
- De-constructing values & beliefs “Who I was made to believe I was was very limited & finite & self-serving.” Reputation, wealth, success, family
- “What motivates me deeply?” rather than “what do people expect of me?”
- Exploring eastern & western philosophy
- “There is this deep reverence that I hold – not for a god… but for the entire evolutionary process” “There seems to some kind of a kind of miraculousness to it”
- Interconnectedness, scale, deep time, human humility
- “There is something much bigger going on.” Mystery – driven by science – but not limited to evidence, because there may be things we’ll never have evidence of
- Evidence might be limited but that’s not an excuse for “making stuff up”
- How supernatural beliefs can warp compassionate ethics
22:18 What & Who Matters?
- “I found so many loopholes in the religious worldview” “I didn’t feel like leaving left a gap – it was the opposite” Finding a sense of wholeness, wonder & “being OK with not knowing”
- Challenging norms of human supremacy & speciesism & hierarchy & arbitrariness
- Always questioning, but having a working hypothesis so we can decide & act
- Reverence for the process, the planet & all the beings on it
- Care ethics “My purpose is to protect”
- The moral difference between cutting a carrot & cutting a pig
- Ecocentrists who exclude sentients!?!
- Revering a system while ignoring the suffering of the beings within it
- Cognitive dissonance
- The violence of animal farming isn’t consistent with reverence or ecocentrism
- Breaking from conservative family expectations & tradition: marriage, kids, wealth
45:12 A Better Future
- “Norms get in the way of us figuring out for ourselves who we are”
- Pronatalism. The centrality of having children
- The implication that women’s only value is in having children & that not doing so is failure
- The responsibility & seriousness of creating new beings
- The risks of over-population (8bn humans but also 100 bn farmed land animals) & over-consumption
- Compassionate population growth mitigation through empowerment, development, education, reproductive rights for girls & women (Costa Rica, Thailand)
- The history & risks of ecofascism/compulsion/immorality re: pop reduction (e.g. 1 child policy, forced sterilisation, war, poverty, disease, famine)
- Ethno-nationalist & religious & economics pronatalism
- Systemic & individual change
- Human & farmed animals as “resources”
- “There’s not a huge difference between how we treat farmed animals & how we treat people”
- Can democracy scale?
Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at Sentientism.info.
Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. The biggest so far is here on Facebook.
Thanks Graham for the post-production.