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Out of the Darkness:
A Non-Violent Approach to Achieving Animal Rights
By Patty Adjamine
The following article was prompted by an e-mail I received through an animal rights chat group. I said in part: "I am full of rage at what people do to animals. I understand that the rage she feels makes her embrace only the most peaceful actions. Even though I call myself a pacifist and try to always act in a non-violent manner, in my heart I don't feel like one. I feel such anger at animal abusers. I know I am capable of committing violence against them. It takes all my strength to not act on those emotions."
To highlight the other parts of this post that were absolutely brilliant would be to reprint the entire message. One thing I would like to add however, is how important it is to try and understand our anger and to somehow channel it into positive directions.
If we look behind most acts of animal abuse we will find ignorance, denials and rationalizations, "conditioning/habit," or sometimes misdirected hostility. While it may be easy to get angry regarding the many horrors inflicted on animals, anger alone doesn't solve the problem, but in most cases, actually fuels it.
We need to understand and address the reasons why most (or some) people still eat meat, hunt/trap, wear furs or neglect, abuse or abandoned their pets. Over the years I have found that at least on the issue of pet abandonment, many people encounter a problem with a pet they don't know how to solve. Then, out of frustration and ignorance people are more apt to neglect, abuse or abandon the pet. In many cases, if we can help the person "deal with the problem," cruelty to animals can be averted.
On the issue of meat-eating, most people have been conditioned to a carnivorous lifestyle and simply don't know how to live any other way. We can of course admonish and lay guilt trips on them for supporting cruelty, but I don't think that solves the problem as much as simply showing them there is a better way. I find that gently informing others of veggie alternatives to meat and dairy (sometimes sharing meals/recipes) goes much further in inspiring others to slowly change than issuing lectures.
I think, as the writer of the e-mail points out, we are all frustrated with the agonizing slow pace of positive change. But, nothing good or lasting ever comes easily. For every act of abuse and ignorance, there are acts of kindness and growth too. (We usually don't hear about those). We must remember we are not alone in our struggles for change. Many good people, too, are working behind the scenes. Let us support each other in our moments of despair, isolation and rage. Let us help each other to try and find the higher roads out of the darkness. For it is only if we can find our way out of the despair, we can hope to guide and inspire others.
Note: Patty Adjamine is the Director of New Yorkers for Companion Animals, a New York City based rescue and adoption organization. Patty can be contacted at [email protected]
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