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Persuade and Convince - Don't Alienate

 Source: http://www.dawnwatch.com/

Some of the greatest Animal Rights activists used to be hunters.  Then they woke up.  Some of the most powerful members of our movement used to work in the meat industry.   Most of us used to eat meat.  We changed our ways because we saw the light, not because someone insulted us.  This must be top of mind as we write letters.   If we insult and alienate someone who may have eventually, even years down the line, become a supporter, then we are venting our anger at the expense of the animals. 

If you are writing a complaint to a show or publication whose work you have enjoyed in the past, do not lose the opportunity to pay a compliment .  Then, gently point out the error of their current ways.   Forgive the animal cliché but, "You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."  It is human nature to care more about pleasing a friend who has been wronged than an adversary.  The reader of your letter is only human.

The reader of your letter is also probably very busy. Keep notes short. Do not get sidetracked from your main point. You will seem to be waffling. Save other points for future notes. 

Use your spell-checker! Rightly or wrongly, people who can spell are assumed to be more intelligent, more educated and are taken more seriously.

Though for the sake of convenience you are sending an email, provide your full name and return address as you would if writing a letter.   Thus your note is seen as coming from a real person with real concerns and cannot be mistaken for one of a mass computer generated mailing.   (An exception might be if you are commending a news report aired only on local TV and you do not wish to announce to the station that you are writing from out of state.) If you are writing to a publication which publishes letters from readers you must also include your phone number so that they can verify that you are the writer.

The reputation of the Animal Rights community is improving.  However, there is still some perception of Animal Right's activists as odd and angry.   If our mission is to change the world, then unfortunately we must care about what people think; we must change their perceptions  for the sake of the animals.   Thus we must make sure that our letters are always rational, to the point, and preferably concerned or disappointed rather than  outraged.   Anger tends to put people on the defensive whereas concern and a rational argument can get a decent hearing.  For the sake of the animals, we must be heard. We will be heard most clearly not when we are shouting loudest, but when we are communicating in such a way that people are willing to listen. 

With regard to that mission to change the world, I leave you with those wonderful words of Margaret Mead: "Never doubt that a small group of concerned citizens can change the world.   Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." 

 



There is a difference between people who want to help animals (Mr. ARA) and people who want only to take the moral high ground (Mr. Moral). At first it is hard to distinguish between them. They both know all the arguments for animal rights and veganism. But their goals are different and they effect people differently. Example: Fred says that he believes in little green men and in the philosophy of "Bill" (substitute any religion, dogma, or family heritage). Both Mr. ARA and Mr. Moral know that "little green" also has some tenets that promote a vegetarian diet. Mr. ARA points these out to Fred. Fred accepts listens and he tries a few more vegetarian meals. Mr. Moral uses a different approach. He argues that vegan is the better way to go, that he doesn't believe in little green men, and that "Bill" is a nutter. Fred turns a deaf ear to Mr. Moral and he continues his carnivore diet. Mr. ARA goes through life caring about people, working with them, and affecting change in them. His affectation multiples geometrically, and thousands of people change. Mr. Moral goes through life offending people and alienating them. One or two will listen to him after he has left the room.


 

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