Utilitarianism is the death of humanity, but also the birth of the humane. The industrial revolution gave rise to many technological advancements as well as the rising economic status of the United States as a major producer and world power. With increasing production, we became a more utilitarian society that measured people, and even animals, on how hard they worked and how long. This meant that anyone and anything that couldn’t work as hard, wasn’t worth as much. Even though our economic systems didn’t place intrinsic value in workers, it’s interest in our instrumental value led to the acceptance of certain practices to allow us to work better. Not to discredit the hard work done by union leaders, but 8 hour work days, required breaks, and other practices would not have happened if the large corporations didn’t realize how much more work could be done if these were in place. Even work horses were given 4 to 5 hour work days, were made sure to be watered, fed, and taken care of properly (such as the use of straw hats for horses, as a means of protecting them from sunstroke) because this allowed for more work to be done. Even though utilitarianism has given birth to practices that are beneficial to workers, these same practices haven’t been applied to our use of land. Land is often valued based on how productive it could be. “How many buildings can be built?” “What will crop production be like?” “How many resources can be extracted?” These are all questions that are asked in regards to acreage, but we seldom hear: “What is the biodiversity like?” “How beautiful are the trees and the stream?” “How many people will get to enjoy the majesty of nature here?”. These questions allow nature to be valuable, solely because it is. Reliance on work or economic gain has allowed our society to become utilitarian in the worst way. We have worked hard to give rights back to animals and people, though the latter could still make some advancements, but the very land we rely on is still based on a soulless value system. Measuring our land by production rates is what is allowing us to run rivers dry and strip areas of life and resources. Perhaps a humane society or workers union for the very Earth itself is the next step towards becoming fully sustainable. Aaron Fletcher

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