Be a Voice for the Voiceless
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world” -Gandhi
Moo-ving people toward compassionate living
One Avenue to Effective Activism
By Mike Shaw
Skillful means is a term used by Buddhists when they want to teach people who are at a different level of understanding from their own. Let me give you an example.
Many years ago, I hooked up with a fellow I had known for quite some time in the Jiu-Jitsu and Karate world and we started a business together. He (Andy) had heard through the grapevine that I was a vegetarian and animal rights activist. Andy told me never to talk to him about it. He informed me that he was a steak and potato kind of guy and an avid fisherman. Well, I had no intention of talking to him about my beliefs. I seldom share my beliefs with acquaintances unless we are out eating and they ask why I am not eating a hamburger or some other flesh product.
Anyway, Andy started asking me questions about vegetarianism and some of you folks already know this story. Andy became a hard core vegan and protester of the circus, the zoos, hunters and fisherman. He is till going strong, last I heard.
That was skillful means... I did not confront Andy. Rather, I lived my happy life and ate, proudly, my vegetarian meals. You see, one of the fears that Andy had was that being a vegetarian was not manly. Seeing me as a longtime black belt and former champion of martial arts, he thought, "Well, if Mike can do it, so can I..."
Interestingly, some folks that I know the other night asked me questions about vegetarianism. They assured me they were just curious and had NO intentions of becoming vegetarians themselves. I told them what happened to Andy and there was a look of shock on their faces and perhaps a bit of fear. They almost looked as though they were afraid to ask any more questions for fear they would somehow get infected with a vegetarian virus... it was cute. Ah, but they did ask for some literature... Who knows?
I have found that the best skillful means is to use the no-sell approach with friends. Yes, I love to put up booths, put on veggie days at the church, but I never get confrontational with folks. We vegetarians are outnumbered about 98 to 2 and if we appear like loose canons, then folks will be afraid to join us, even if they want to at some level. Thus, I believe that skillful means, is the best way.
Mike can be reached by email or through his Ministry listing.
Animal Rights Activism
The calf photo on these pages is from Farm Sanctuary with our thanks.
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