Civil Disobedience or Education? Capturing the Hearts & Minds of Non-Vegans
Ronnie Lee, Barry Horne, Keith Mann, Roger Yates, Rod Coronado, Greg Avery, Melody MacDonald, The Hunt Saboteurs Association, David & Fiona Callender, ALF, SHAC and many others. Names that (to some) conjure up up romantic images of men an women in black, with their balaclavas and bolt cutters. These are names that will live on in the annals of animal rights history. These people and, many others like them were viewed as heroes.
Whether you agree or disagree with the actions (sometimes unconventional) of these brave few is a moot point. There is no denying their passion, their commitment and their contribution to the animal rights movement.
With arguably the most effective campaign in history against Huntingdon Life Sciences - a research organisation heavily involved in animal experimentation – SHAC, with help from the Animal Liberation movement, had this organisation on its knees financially. Over a ten year period, SHAC and the A.L.F. fought relentlessly to offer salvation to the 70,000+ animals that were housed there. Unfortunately, then, the UK government stepped in and saved the day with financial support and legislative muscle.
SHAC is no more. They decided that a change of tactics was in order. Have a feeling they will be back, though.
In 2014, times have changed. Like SHAC, we need to evolve - maybe it is time to change our tactics too. In fact, I am sure of it.
What was seen as the tactics of the day back in the seventies and eighties is no longer legitimate without some concrete changes. Civil disobedience has a role and it can never be dead and buried – however, there is a time and a place.
Violence or perceived violence is not acceptable as we seem to be in a constant state of “terror alert” these days. Violence will not attract but actually repel would-be recruits to the vegan movement. So we look to education as the common denominator for recruitment.
We have to do something, because more animals than ever are being exploited and slaughtered needlessly.
Single issue campaigns are not working plus they waste time and resources and are a blatant exercise in speciesism. Dolphins are not more or less important than dogs, cats, lions, badgers, bears, tigers, rabbits, monkeys and so on.Single issue campaigns lead to not only sheer frustration but very often burnout as well. In addition, most single issue campaigns promote the “issue” at the expense of veganism. No doubt, to many a single issue campaign makes you feel good, makes you feel that you are achieving something; let me tell you that the longest running single issue campaign in the world, ant-fur has been an abject failure.. More fur than ever is being sold.
It's not rocket science: but we can attempt to save all species by favouring vegan education as the central focus of change and new growth. Vegan education covers everything. We are just not promoting veganism enough. Veganism is the end-goal. Achieve that and everything else will fall into line.
We need to be chopping the tree down not the branches.
The more people we can educate into the vegan way of life, the stronger and more potent we will be. Big-Ag laughs at our splintered state but fears a unified movement.
As a movement divided we fall, united we will overcome.
“We need an articulated and actionable plan for bringing about animal liberation. In the current view, we spend our resources and energy 'fighting battles', where they occur and on the exploiters' terms. We need to move beyond this war imagery to a constructive approach.
No matter how many chants we shout, no matter how many sound bites we gain, no matter how many labs we vandalize or 'enemies' we defeat, animal liberation will not occur until we join with everyone in a vegan world.
There is hope for animal liberation if and only if we learn how to help people get past their wall of denial and manifest their latent compassion. To succeed, our interactions with others must be rooted in empathy and understanding – working with and from a person's motivations, fears, desires and shortcomings. Instead of approaching with a 'fighting' mindset, which necessarily makes people defensive and closed to new ideas, we should provide people with information that they can digest on their own time and act upon at a sustainable pace. Only then will real progress be made.”
Daydream for a moment and imagine that all individual vegans and all of the big vegan groups promoted veganism and not cage-free or bigger cages...
One person? No organization? Doesn't matter! Everyone one of us has the capacity and ability to reach many. We can all educate many.
(My good friend Leigh-Chantelle, from this website is an extraorinarily talented vegan educator. She currently has nearly 82,000 followers on G+. Now that's a great reach!)
- Published: 08 October 2014
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