Animal Rights: how to keep going when you feel like you’re getting nowhere

I wish all animals could live such a peaceful life.
I wish all animals could live such a peaceful life.

I am lucky enough at my full-time job to be able to go to various talks with amazing speakers. The other day, the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund sponsored a visiting faculty member to give a talk about animal rights –he used to work for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. This being a lunchtime talk, food was offered, of course, but not just pizza. We had falafel and lots of other vegan and vegetarian friendly foods. Yum yum!

His talk centered on the ridiculousness (my characterization) of some of the anti-cruelty laws, in that they would leave out scenarios that would obviously be considered animal cruelty to any reasonable person. He also talked about the court systems and how far behind they are in advancing animal rights.  He talked about case in which he was involved, where a goat had killed its owner after years of being tortured, and then the question became whether or not to “put down” the goat. (The abuse was confirmed by the deceased’s widow.) He argued that case and the goat was able to live out its natural life on a farm, thankfully. Now, some people may laugh and say that defending a goat is just not worth it, but to animal lovers everywhere, I think they would disagree.  

I you think back, just under 100 years ago, women were not able to vote. Someone had to fight for that right.  African-Americans were treated unequally for many years (and many may say, still are today.)   The fight for animals to be treated as living beings with feelings has to start somewhere, that’s what I am saying.  (As a post-script, I just saw that such a case is being brought in upstate NY with a chimp.  It was also reported in the NY Times.)

Below are some of his memorable statements that made enough of an impact on me to write them down.

  1. “Focus on the wins, not the losses.”
  2. At the end of the day, think back and be able to say this to yourself “I made a difference, and the difference is a good one.”
  3. “If you can reduce the suffering in the world by any amount, that is a move in the right direction.”
  4. “When you hear that little nagging voice telling you something is wrong, don’t do it.”
  5. “Each day, make it a little better.”

My full time job is as a reference librarian, as some of you may know. After the talk was over, I went up to the student who had put the event together and gave her a little note that had my contact details, what my job was, and the fact that I am the proud mother of five cats and a 12 year old chihuahua.  As soon as I did so, she literally hugged me! I’ve never had that kind of reaction from a student before upon meeting me, but I immediately hugged her back. That’s something I might have done! I’m telling you, animal lovers are a different breed! (No pun intended. Ok, maybe just a little one….)  It’s just one more way I want to help accomplish one of my dreams, which is to help animals. If I can use the skills that have cost me so much in a monetary sense for the good of animals, so much the better!

What do you think – should animals have the same rights as humans? I know this is a loaded question, on which there are so many views.

9 thoughts on “Animal Rights: how to keep going when you feel like you’re getting nowhere

    • Oh my God, Jim, thank you!! I sometimes wonder if anyone is out there reading my posts, and thank you for letting me know someone is. I know I’m just a single person, but I want to do what I can to help advance the interests of animals. I didn’t know about that website before your comment, so I thank you for that. And if you have any suggestions on any other issues you think I should cover, I would appreciate hearing them. I really appreciate your reposting, and commenting, for many reasons, especially for the animals.

      • All for the animals. I too sometimes wonder, but still try to put stuff out. I linked my blog with my twitter flickr and Facebook. I have something like 750. Friends but to get anyone to do anything is rubbish. Especially when all are in favour of animal rights and the environment.

      • I have also linked my blog with my facebook account, and even created its own facebook page. I just set up a twitter account this morning, so I’ll start following you. I see different folks on facebook posting about getting petitions signed, etc. Do you think those help at all? I do have a good online facebook friend (who comments on this blog pretty regularly) and she’s done a lot for animal rights and animal advocacy in her past. You know what’s funny, is the question and reaction I get from people saying “you want to be vegan?? Why?!” (It’s not funny but you know what I mean.)

      • Not sure about petitions, I sign them as it doesn’t really take much effort. As to there benefit, not sure. I have a Facebook group called 269 action Scotland. I post any demos in Scotland.

  • Fabulous news! Big thanks to Jim Wood for reposting this blog piece. Having been active in animals rights since the early 80’s, and having had a business for 10 years that worked directly with animal welfare and environmental activism, I agree with the key points from the talk that you posted here Terri. I would also add, pull together with other of like mind for support and ideas. There should be NO ROOM for back-biting and bashing within the animal rights community. Animal rights are all about compassion and if you’re focused on what someone else is doing wrong or not doing, etc., you’re not focused on the issues at hand. Also, I was told by more than one of my representatives, writing does make a difference. When I began the Internet was fairly non-existent . . . it was pen to paper (and that still is VERY effective BTW) and now we have beautiful tools like Facebook and other social media to spread the word fast. It’s up to those who choose this work not to let the conversation die. That said, I have a dear friend who is pretty prominent in animal rights circles (and is a published author of animal rights works) who I lovingly call, “the angry vegan”. She is uber passionate about the cause but often times to the detriment of getting the message delivered because she can be bitter and judgmental. I understand the frustration of apathy but I looked more to myself when I felt that response . . . I questioned, “how best can I deliver this information so that people can easily take it in and care?” People must be touched, moved and inspired to make a change. You both are on the right track . . . thanks so much for being a voice for the animals . . . xxoo

    • That’s what I have been trying to figure out, Darris. How to get the message across without turning people off from at least listening. I had at least one friend tell me that they almost blocked me on facebook because I posted pics of animals that they couldn’t look at. I realize a lot of the images are horrible, and actually I have since found myself self-censoring so as to not totally turn everyone off, and be more selective of what I post. But really, I want to post more. It’s when we turn our backs and try to pretend and just go on like there’s nothing wrong that things are allowed to continue to happen.

      Jim, thank you for the information on your facebook page. I’m on the other side of the “pond” but am definitely interested in helping to spread the word.

  • Absolutely! As far as cruelty and neglect go! God asked us to take dominion over everything. He did not say to be cruel. I will never be able to understand how cruel people can be. I believe all living beings should be treated kindly and with respect. God made them for us to enjoy, not abuse. And since they cannot defend themselves I believe we that can, should! 🙂

    • Gabriele, thanks for commenting. ANd yes, i really do worry and wonder about humans, as to why they are so cruel, and I guess, arrogant in thinking that they can treat other creatures like they do. It makes me sick. I’m definitely going to do whatever I can to help those who can’t talk for themselves.

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