As activists, we are constantly overwhelmed by images, reality, injustice, pain, sorrow, loss. We have few wins, and many battles. We find ourselves thinking about these injustices from morning to night. Our cause takes over often, sabotaging every thought and feeling. We are immersed and dedicated, fearless and resolute in our actions.
We are dumbfounded that so many people still don’t get it, that the penny hasn’t dropped. Appalled that they can allow such atrocities to happen. Sometimes rage and the thirst for revenge takes over. We seek justice at any cost, and by any means. We rant and rave on social media, blind with fury.
This is where we need to check ourselves. Rage and anger get you no where. There is a reason that so many people not in the animal rights or animal welfare world, flinch and recoil away from us when we say we are an activist. It is because anyone who is so extreme and unstable is scary. They are dangerous, in any walk of life. We must learn to control our feelings, whilst also allowing them to be there and propel our will and actions forward. It is a delicate and fragile balance we need to strike.
I feel for you. I have worked very hard on myself to keep my inner calm. I try to remain level headed and to always see the big picture. I find that by doing this, I am not so consumed… although trust me I have my days. When Milo was sick and I could not see her, I was furious. I cried and raged for days on end. I couldn’t accept that I had physically done all that I could. Now I acknowledge that I did in fact do all that I could. My hands were tied as soon as she was handed over to the authorities. It is the same in Taiji, we are angry and distraught when we see the dolphins being slaughtered, we WISH we could cut the nets, set them free…..but you see this is not the way to change a nation, to inspire and to allow room for new traditions to take their place.
The abuse of animals is a long standing tradition in Asia, as the hunting of whales is in Japan (albeit the dolphin hunting is new, it is still widely accepted as tradition WITHIN Japan, and by the Japanese people….) whether we agree or not, and that is the hurdle we have to overcome. It is to change the hearts of the ones we see as guilty of these crimes. We have to work from the inside and try to find a way to get them to sit down with us at the table. Most of the struggle is that these practices are not illegal, so this also further isolates us and our cause. We must find a common ground. I truly in my heart believe that is the only way. People won’t change because we tell them to. People change because they are enlightened, or find a way to make more money than the way they are, by doing something different. I know we won’t get to that point anytime soon, but in my belief and in working with people in these countries for years now, and watching their cultures and the way they handle outside influence, that is my thought.
I know you get tired. I know you feel alone, and that your family and friends don’t get you. I know you have a voice. Let’s use our voices in a productive way. Let’s educate and infect the world with how it could be, how we can save one another and the animals on the globe. People need to calm down, breathe, and be strategic. You care enough to be here and do something, you care and you are empathic, you have compassion and a desire to shout out for the voiceless, to be their voice. Keep doing that. If you are balanced and calm, come to the table with facts with respect and a gentle manner, you will find you get many more people in your corner.
The life of the activist is one without an off switch. It is so tiring and yet so fulfilling. When we have the wins, man they are worth all the struggles! Remember to look after yourself too. Rest, and take time out every now and then, hard as that may seem. United we have this, and we are making huge waves, and change and reform is happening every day. Every person we meet and talk to counts. Go into the local school and talk about animal welfare, about the wrongs of captivity, the horrors of Taiji etc. You are not powerless.
I want people reading to know, who aren’t aware of why we do what we do…who are quick to judge, or cover their ears and eyes, to look the other way; that we do this out of a compulsion. We do this to make the world a better place for everyone, for our children and the generations after them.
I know people who work in human rights too, and it is just as distressing, if not more so. If we all just play our part, and stop pointing fingers, stop telling others how to do it better or differently, and actually rally behind one another, we would see much bigger changes, and greater harmony and unity. When I decided to use my voice, I never in a million years thought I would come up against so much opposition from people who I naively presumed were on my side! I was bowled over! All I wanted to do and still want to do, is make the world a better place…..heal it, and inspire and educate those around me.
Start small. I am finding more and more ways to get the message out there, through talks, music, radio interviews, talking to people on tours here in Thailand, and through my family and friends (many of whom have joined our crusade).
Every little helps…..come and act from a place of love…..Activists are not people who sit behind their computer and preach, activists are people who get out there and actually do something about it. We do this by not eating animals, by protesting, by educating, by choosing to live compassionately and choose cruelty free products, by speaking out where others won’t, by being conscious in our decisions in every aspect of our lives. This does not make us extremists, this makes us decent human beings, how everyone should be. There are those out there that give the cause a bad name, but I beseech any of you who are looking at what we do with confusion and judgement to dig a little deeper, and ask some of these questions to yourself when you are in a zoo, or eating a meal, or shopping taking plastic bags….
Is this right?
Does this sit well with my conscience?
Is this helping the state the planet is in?
Is this how I want my children to be raised?
Can I make even a small difference by making a different choice?
Does this person have a point?
Is this an action coming from love?