Selective Compassion
An Animal Rights Article from


Linda J. Howard Published with the permission of the author
February 1999

There is a difference between "hating" people who inflict harm on (or perpetuate suffering) of others and "hating" the actions of those individuals/groups.

Here's an example: The ex-butcher in England who had a sudden epiphany and turned vegan... He is now traveling around Europe speaking about the horrors of animal evisceration and educating about veganism. Do we hate him? [Let's hope not -- he is a great advocate for animals since he can speak effectively from first-hand experience!]

If we truly hated the butcher (as an individual) when he was engaged in slaughtering animals, then we should still hate the same individual who is now promoting veganism... Unless it was his actions that we actually hated.

The best way to teach people about animal suffering is to talk to them. When we are reactionary and defensive, we alienate people and they will refuse to listen to us (even if they are forced to listen, they will likely not think of us as reasonable.) The animals can't afford for us to widen the chasm of polarization between us and the unknowing (and often uncaring) public. We are the only voice the animals have!

Demonstrating and exemplifying compassion and forgiveness gives us more opportunity to open the minds of human animals and gives us much more credibility. Even if you feel outraged and you are bursting at the seems with anger, try to be a reasonable voice for the animals and vent later.

Rosa Parks said, "If you want to be respected for your actions, then your behavior must be beyond reproach... This is how you gain the respect of others. If our lives demonstrate that we are peaceful, humble, and trusted, this is recognized by others. If our lives demonstrate something else, that will be noticed too."

Peace, Linda

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