I spent two @#%$! weeks of vacation time and $1000 protesting and getting
support to save a whale trapped in a bay, ignoring the fact that a week spent at
the animal shelter (where I volunteer) would likely have saved 10 lives (finding
homes, additional cost savings to the shelter).
This is possibly more reprehensible than a person who eats beef believing that
cows live a happy life before they die.
I knew what I was doing. Knowledge should be more than power--it should be
Ironically, I sometimes find it frustrating that the public is not aware of the
animal abuse that goes on behind closed doors. Yet, I sometimes spend time
saving one animal at the expense of many due to my laser focus on events in
front of me. Not all actions are equal. I am frequently faced with the choice of
'Do I save animal A or animal B?' Here are some suggested things to consider
when evaluating a potential AR activity (beware of 'paralysis of analysis'):
1. Cost. Time, money, and emotional energy spent (my mistake: rescuing an animal
that was near-death and spending large amounts of money on medical bills, then
running out of money for an operation that would have saved an otherwise healthy
2. Danger to other sentient beings. Take into account humans as well as rodents
you can't see. Realize that 'change' may upset a miniature ecosystem on
which some beings may rely.
3. Improvement in the quality of life of the 'to-be saved' animal (is there
a good home or safe environment for it?).
4. Public opinion. (My mistake: rescuing an animal and then, in frustration,
spray-painting an obscenity on the wall). The obscenity made the news (nowadays
there is no news without pictures) and the slant of the news-story was anti-AR.
Result: More folks will probably turn a deaf ear to AR issues.
5. Effect on the business losing the animal. (My mistake: liberating an animal
from an experiment that was subsequently replaced with a 'brand new' test
subject. Although the liberation forced the company to buy a new security
system, the company did not reduce the amount of testing. The only effect of
causing economic damage was to stockholders--NOT a good reason).
1. Internet opinion polls -- Expense: 5 minutes to read and vote. Gain: Our
follow-up on polls that we thought were meaningful revealed the websites
considered them 'for fun' to 'attract web traffic' and 'not deemed
scientific'. No course of action was changed. Your time is better spent with
e-mail campaigns (below).
2. Letter writing / e-mail campaigns -- Expense: 10 minutes to cut, paste, print
and mail/send. Gain: Our follow-up shows that many industry leaders, judges, and
politicians count each letter, frequently respond to the individual who sent the
letter, and many do change their course of action. Many admit to being unaware
of the AR Activists' perspective. Time is well spent if the issue is important
3. Informing people seeking information. After I have answered their first
question, what next? Of course, this depends on the individual. But I have
inadvertently overwhelmed people. It was too temping to share my knowledge. And
few people can make a lot of changes to their lives. When I have seen long-term
change in folks, here is how the discussions started:
a. Vegetarian/Vegan health -- many people have a positive reaction to the facts
in books like 'Diet for a New America.'
b. Hunting/Fishing -- if you tell someone about the evils of factory farming and
they still eat meat, logically it is hypocritical to be concerned about someone
who hunts. At least hunters aren't having someone else do their killing. Wait
for them to ask.
c. Entertainment -- Zoos, circuses, rodeos, etc. Save this for when you learn
they are attending such an event.
d. Factory farming -- share some info about beef, pork, and chicken. It might
help them stick to their new veggie diet.
e. Animal testing -- it is surprising difficult to get folks to change their
shopping habits, which include grabbing the same old products without examining
the box. It sometimes helps to tell people they can save money and help animals
by buying 'generic' brands. These are usually copies of the same product the
major companies make.
4. Debating with opponents of AR -- you might as well spend your time talking to
yourself. In 15 years the only folks who approached me with an attitude and then
actually listened and discussed issues, were folks who calmed down immediately
when presented with a cool response. If they remain argumentative and don't
care about your first several answers, they won't change. Even if one did, it
is not a statistically reasonable way to allocate your time. Your knowledge of
AR is a valuable resource. Don't waste it.
5. Demonstrations -- In this age of the media sound byte, demonstrations that get
news coverage further the awareness of the masses, who, for the most part, are
not evil -- just uninformed.
6. Donations to AR organizations -- There is clout in numbers. Support them, but
be aware of organizations that consider animal welfare to mean protecting
animals for hunters. Stay with the big orgs unless you've done your homework.