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January 13, 2006
What is community? Community according to Webster's online dictionary defines it as: "a unified body of individuals: as a : STATE, COMMONWEALTH b : the people with common interests living in a particular area; broadly : the area itself <the problems of a large community> c : an interacting population of various kinds of individuals (as species) in a common location d: a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society <a community of retired persons> e : a group linked by a common policy f : a body of persons or nations having a common history or common social, economic, and political interests <the international community> g : a body of persons of common and especially professional interests scattered through a larger society <the academic community>"(Webster, 2006).
While this definition seems long it is really quite simple. From analyzing this definition I can say I live in at least four communities: Italian community, Low Income community, Barrington Community, and the Animal Rights Community. I travel in and out these four communities daily.
When Italian people first immigrated to America they suffered many prejudices which overtime has pretty much disappeared. In fact many Italian Americans in Rhode Island celebrate their shared heritage on St. Josephs Day on March 19th. It is a time of celebrating with family, food, and friends. (Camarda, 2005). Many of the Italian Americans in my hometown community still speak Italian in order to talk to family and friends still remaining in Italy who only speak Italian. The rich foods of our shared heritage have come with them to their new lives in a new country. Italian Americans as a community have assimilated to the new world around them and are working in all areas of the area in which we live. (Mcleod, NA).
I am forever bound to the Italian community by heritage but I am somewhat disconnected to it; unlike the low income community. Low income people face very real prejudices on a daily basis. The most common myth facing low income people is that all of them "are extremely uneducated" (Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, NA). The fact is that "Three-fourths of poor people have a minimum of a high school diploma" (MCH, NA). This prejudice makes it hard for low income people to get work and sometimes medical treatment due to lack of money from insufficient paychecks. In fact "seventy-five percent of uninsured adults say the main reason they are not insured is because they cannot afford the premiums" (American Medical Student Association, 2005).
There are many groups that help low income people providing services, food and even emergency shelter. Many of these facilities are listed right in the phone book or through a local Department of Human Services Office.
In Barrington there is a food pantry supplied by the Rhode Island Community Food Bank which help supply food to low income families which includes handicapped people, low income, parents with or without employment and even students. (RIFOODBANK, 2005).
Barrington in general is considered a good place to live as shown by a recent survey from CNN declaring it to be the sixth best place to live in 2005. (CNN, 2005).
Living in a community like this protects it residents somewhat from many of the harsh realities of inner city life. In an area like this there are many things to help poor people trying to get on our feet, like I discussed previously. There is also a strong school system which encourages volunteers with special skills to come in and teach on a voluntary or stipend basis.
The community I am most at home in is the hardcore animal rights community. Unlike racial communities or town communities, animal rights activists are a worldwide community. There is no racism, sexism, or religious hatred. Animal Liberation Front (ALF) has a simple credo which hardcore animal activists subscribe to particularly those who support the ALF outright or in secret. The fourth guideline of the credo is "TO take all necessary precautions against harming any animal, human and non-human" (ALF, 1991). The only requirement is support animal rights with no wavering.
People of this community believe people outside the community need to be educated as Ann Berlin one of the moderators from the ALF forum states in a personal email to me dated January 6, 2006 "My guess is that the average person thinks that they don't hurt animals, and they are not speciesists. That's why education of the average person is critical." We do not hate meat eaters just what they do and believe that they are uneducated.
Society in general has skewed the view of animal rights activists. This reached its highpoint in 2005 when the Federal Bureau of Investigations released documents on Greenpeace, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) show the FBI expanding the definition of
'domestic terrorism' to include citizens and groups that participate in lawful protests or civil disobedience" (American Civil Liberties Union, 2005).
Unlike most other groups there are no minorities. "The majority of animal rights supporters have widened their efforts to include the whole of creation, the human animal included"(D'Amico, NA). We are all equal cat, dog, cow, child, woman, man, Black, Hispanic and White. True universality.
There are no minority group interests in my community because our only interest is true peace for all. The leaders of the community are not even really leaders, they are encouragers at times they are faceless at times they are in the room with you.
In the Animal Rights community there are no inequities we are here because we want to be. There are inequities between my communities though. If I could change the world I would eliminate pollution from everyday life I would eliminate heartless abuse of animals and people. I would bring peace if that were done the Animal Rights community would not exist and then would melt into a great melting pot of acceptance and love for all.
I do go about making changes toward this idealistic world on a daily basis. It cannot happen overnight it will take time lots of time. The first step is to stop overt abuses of humans and animals by proper education of feeling not old time quagmired thought patterns which have brought about such horrible suffering. I would expose the blood and screams and panic of animals slaughtered. I would show people how much people suffer when they die from diseases in order to make them fully understand pain and why we need to work on solutions that will cure/prevent these diseases from ruining one more life. I would see that every child born is nurtured and taught spiritual love by educating the parents that cruelty does not teach compassion or caring. I would begin to be happy.
Why is this important? I would like to again share a snippet of Ann Berlin's email to me regarding this exact question. "It isn't important yet, and it won't be important until some "critical mass" of people become aware of other animals' suffering. As has been
true of sexism and racism, sensitivity to speciesism will increase with awareness. Teenagers are now exposed to commercials for animal rights (such as those created by COK, Compassion Over Killing) which are shown on MTV. Just as the concepts of sexism and racism have been important to advancing human rights, awareness of speciesism will expedite the advancement of nonhuman rights"(Berlin, 2006).
When we as a species get past hating what looks different; specie, gender, race, sexual orientation, and religious choice will truly be free. "In all the round world of Utopia there is no meat. There used to be. But now we cannot stand the thought of slaughter-houses. And, in a population that is all educated, and at about the same level of physical
refinement, it is practically impossible to find anyone who will hew a dead ox or pig. We never settled the hygienic question of meat-eating at all. This other aspect decided us. I can still remember, as a boy, the rejoicings over the closing of the last slaughter-house" (Wells, 1905).
These sentiments are not new and began as far back Pythagoras(mathematician) who was believed to be a vegetarian and said "As long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seeds of murder and pain cannot reap the joy of love" (Pythagoras, NA).
American Civil Liberties Union. (2005). New documents show fbi targeting environmental and animal rights groups activities as
'domestic terrorism'. Retrieved January 21, 2006 from
American Medical Student Association. (2005). The uninsured: myths & facts. Retrieved January 19, 2006 from
Animal Liberation Front. (1991). The credo / guidelines of the animal liberation front. Retrieved January 20, 2006 from
Camarda, Nicole. (2005). Saint joseph's day in rhode island the other march celebration. Retrieved January 13, 2006 from
CNNMoney.com. (2005). Best places to live 2005. Retrieved January 20, 2006 from
D�Amico, Teresa. (NA). Who are these animal right activists anyway? Retrieved January 22, 2006 from
Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless. (NA). Myth vs. reality. Retrieved January 19, 2006 from
Mcleod, Brett, (NA). The Italian experience in america. Retrieved January 13, 2006 from
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. (2006). Community. Retrieved January 13, 2006 from
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. (2006). Community. Retrieved January 13, 2006 from
RIFOODBANK.ORG. (2005). Rhode island community food bank. Retrieved January 20, 2006 from
Vegan Outreach. (NA) Vegan and vegetarian quotes. Retrieved January 22, 2006 from
Wells, H.G. (1905) A modern Utopia. Retrieved January 22, 2006 from