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Newsletter - Animal Writes sm
22 September 1999  Issue

START NOW ON BECOMING AN ANIMAL ACTIVIST
By Tim Ray

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can
change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever does"
--Margaret Mead

Have you ever thought of doing something for the animals, but were just not sure where to begin or what the consequences would be? Have you ever experienced the feeling of helplessness or felt compassion for a poor agonizing critter or pet, but just were not sure what to do about it? If you answered yes, then here are some things to ponder and to start doing. Make this your New Year's resolution. Don't hesitate! Every minute an animal is being senselessly abused or killed...this is reality. Whatever your religious background, beliefs, upbringing, or peer pressure may be, keep this one thing in mind....there is not a single species or animal that likes to die or be abused in any way. All living and breathing beings protect themselves from death or harm. Knowing this, it is then absurd to think that animals should not be granted basic rights to live freely and to die naturally. Yet, this is the way many humans think, as old ignorance is passed down through the generations.

"People often say that humans have always eaten animals, as if this
is a justification for continuing the practice. According to this logic,
we should not try to prevent people from murdering other people,
since this has also been done since the earliest of times.
--Isaac Bashevis Singer, Nobel Laureate

The point here is that human civilization has evolved through many different periods of time. Some of those times were quite brutal, and those times are a part of us. However, our philosophies of life can and should change for the simple reason that life is precious, as well as a gift..it is not ours to take away. Once you start the journey of helping animals and others live a better life, your life becomes more enriched and focused. It is indeed a wonderful journey.

"We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty with which we treat the animals. Animals suffer as much as we do. True humanity does not allow us to impose such sufferings on them. It is our duty to make the whole world recognize it. Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace."
--Albert Schweitzer

I recommend that you start slowly. Try a couple of things that you like to do already, like writing, or getting more hands on experience with the animals. Gaining knowledge about the reaches of inhumanity through the web and START is a great second step. Do not get trapped in the "It's-so-immense" or "I-can't-make-a-difference" syndrome. Talk to other concerned people and stay active with your daily or weekly animal activism goals. Good luck, stay focused, and most importantly, get started!

10 Steps to Becoming an Animal Activist

Here are 10 steps that can start you on your way to becoming an activist for the animals! Positive action erases negative emotion.

1. Embrace the vegan way of life. It's better for your health and for the planet. You will also be ending your participation in any animal killing (see PETA's pamphlet on The Realities of Animal-Based Agriculture, excerpted from Diet for a New America by John Robbins.

2. Join START and/or an animal rights group like PETA. These organizations will help you to build knowledge and confidence. They also provide a wealth of information on current issues and opportunities for active involvement.

3. Do not buy from or support companies and people who are known animal users and killers. Read product labels and be certain that they have not been tested on animals and that they do not contain animal byproducts (see PETA's Caring Consumer Guide or NAVS Personal Care for People Who Care). The internet, as well as many books, can help you with this.

4. Write letters to companies, restaurants, charitable organizations, government officials, churches, friends, and family members urging them to stop animal abuse, animal experimentation, and killing. Focus on a key issue (e.g., Proctor & Gamble, factory farming, or puppy mills).

5. Let the media hear your voice. Write letters and speak up to radio stations, newspapers, and TV stations whenever you hear of animal rights being denied and/or glorified.

6. Put an animal rights message on your answering machine, voice mail, or screen saver on your computer at work (there are many you can download off the internet).

7. Wear buttons and T-shirts, and use bumper stickers to spread the word and to get great conversations started.

8. Get informed. Read animal rights books and other literature that will better inform you on how to get involved, be effective, and find out what is really going on behind closed doors, as well as right out in the open. The internet is also a great resource for all kinds of animal rights information.

9. Leafleting is a great way to spread the word. Focus on an important issue and hand out leaflets in front of a busy location, like the post office on a Saturday, or in front of a known animal testing lab during business hours, or place them on car windshields in a parking lot during church or at the movies. Also stick brochures in outgoing bills/mail.

10. Fundraising and donations support your local animal rights group and maybe a national group of your choice. Your donations, no matter what size, keep their work for the animals going strong. You may also want to hold garage sales or craft sales to raise money for the benefit of a group or activity that you feel is important to the animals.

Copyright 1999 by Tim Ray and the St. Louis Animal Rights Team.
Reprinted with permission. For more information and activist resources,
go to www.start4animals.org/

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