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Thoughts on Koko, The Gorilla Who Talks

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The BBC documentary, Koko, The Gorilla Who Talks, is now available on Netflix.

It's a thought provoking film. Start with the title. It doesn't say "the gorilla that talks." No, it refers to Koko, the gorilla with a sign language vocabulary of hundreds of words as a "who."

This idea that a gorilla could be a "who," not an it, ie., a person, is extremely odd to many in the west, who embrace what Derek Jensen describes as "the myth of human supremacy." Aboriginal/indigenous peoples tend to be far more inclusive. They treat nature as "we"-- trees, birds, Salmon, bears, wolves...

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But the west, in a form of grandiosity-- call it insanity, delusion, species narcissism-- over the past 800 or so years, maybe longer, maybe even since the beginning of farming and the domestication of animals, has divorced itself from nature and from the idea that other beings could have intelligence of their own kind.

Koko stands out because she can communicate using sign language. Over the years she's developed additional skills to use tools, drink from a glass, use a pen...

But none of those things are prerequisite for another being-- we call them animals-- to possess intelligence. In addition to primates, ctopi and Cetaceans (Dolphins and porpoises) are also extremely intelligent. So are horses.

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In his book The Myth of Human Supremacy, Derek Jensen asks the question, "Who invented penicillin?" In my interview with Jensen, I asked him to go into the details. He replied,

"We always think of Alexander Fleming. He didn't really invent Penicillin. Okay, it was invented by a guy, 30 years earlier who wrote to the Pasteur institute and never get credit. But no, Arab stable boys would keep saddles in dark so they would get moldy because horse's saddle sores would heal better. In the Crusades, soldiers put moldy bread on wounds."

Then he went on to identify the real inventor of penicillin:

"But the actual inventors of penicillin, are the molds, which invented it to prevent bacteria from eating their food.

If humans create something it's valuable. If nature creates something, it's not considered valuable or art. We never think of bird or frog song or the colors of the fall.

We presume that there is no function, art, creativity in nature."

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And Jensen points out, "How does this relate to this culture killing the planet. If you can come to believe that nature serves no purpose-- you can kill."

I said to Jensen, "You say, in the book, "The point of a supremacist mindset is to facilitate-- emotionally, intellectually, theologically, physically-- the exploitation of others." Sounds like the definition of a narcissist or psychopath. Talk about these."

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Rob Kall is an award winning journalist, inventor, software architect, connector and visionary. His work and his writing have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC, the HuffingtonPost, Success, Discover and other media. He's given talks and workshops to Fortune 500 execs and national medical and psychological organizations, and pioneered first-of-their-kind conferences in Positive Psychology, Brain Science and Story. He hosts some of the world's smartest, most interesting and powerful people on his Bottom Up Radio Show, and founded and publishes one of the top Google- ranked progressive news and opinion sites, OpEdNews.com

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Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com-- which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project. 

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