Don't treat me like a human being. Treat other beings how you’d treat me.

The more we expose the systemic horribleness that gets inflicted on us in this world, the more I get to hear one of my least favourite retorts, said by people whose points I otherwise agree with.

"Treat us like human beings!"

Which I dislike for so many reasons, not least that I don't identify as human. Even more, I dislike that there's a hierarchy, in which it's okay to continue treating non-human beings like we do— or at the very least, we can leave the rights of other creatures for "later", as if their lives and health didn't overlap directly with the lives of bipedal tool-users.

I don't want to be treated like a special being, and given special rights apart from the animals. That illusion of special separateness is what got us here in the first place: dumping waste in the oceans and landfills, poisoning the soil with weedkillers and our houses with pesticides, because humanity "deserves" a clean and sterile life abstracted from nature's imperfections. That is, until the pesticides are absorbed into our crops and the waste turns up inside the fish we eat, until the animals huddled together in wire cages cause a murderous pandemic. We were never separate at all.

My right to not eat poisoned food is indivisible from the rights of plants not to be poisoned. The very concept of "human rights", not as a subset of rights for all but as a unique thing given to one species, is a denial of this truth. Belief in a separate "humanity" is a belief in a walled garden, in the idea that we can carve out a perfect niche where the rest of "nature" won't encroach.

If you've ever tried to kill a "weed", of course, you know this is a fantasy. We live in nature, no matter the houses and cities we build. It will come in through the cracks in your perfect paving stones. It will live inside your walls. It has been displaced time and time again, torn up, sickened, burned; but it will keep coming back. A place where no life can thrive would kill you too.

I want to live in a world where all life, from the rivers to the soil, is respected and seen for the necessary part of the ecosystem it is. I *am* an animal, a living being, and I want my aliveness, my capacity to experience things good and bad, to be why you treat me well.