I have noticed a disturbing trend recently, in the animal rights community. There seem to be an awful lot of people criticizing and berating each other about the ways in which they promote animal rights. Some people are too "lazy" while others are too "pushy". People who are very strict about veganism are "turning people off to the idea" and those who are more lenient are "not real vegans". One side says that we should only promote veganism for animal rights reasons but the other thinks the health argument is more effective. I have even seen people viciously attacking some of my favorite animal rights organizations because, along with promoting veganism, they have supported various welfare initiatives.
I find this all extremely upsetting. Every animal rights activist knows how lonely it can be to be so passionate about a cause that so few people understand. So the idea of attacking the, very few, other people who care about the cause is just unfathomable to me. Of course, I have my own ideas about how best to further the cause but I refuse to distance myself from others in the movement just because they have other ideas. No one gets involved in animal rights for the wrong reasons. No one has anything to gain from it, except the fulfillment that comes from standing up for what is right. So why do we have to fight with each other over logistics? We are all on the same side. We are all just doing the best we can to help the animals. I don't think anyone really knows what the most effective tactics are, and different things work for different people. So it seems to me that the best methods to use are all of them. If we try everything, something is bound to work.
All of this fighting amongst ourselves is only making things harder on all of us and, in my opinion, it is already hard enough. We already face insult and criticism everywhere we go. Every day we have to deal with people who think we are crazy for caring about the lives of nonhuman animals. We are mocked, teased, yelled at and lectured by the majority of the population. The AR community is supposed to be our safe-haven, but I'm afraid it's becomming just one more place where we have to be on our guard at all times.
My plea to all of you is this, support each other. Even if you don't agree with everything other activists do, remember that they are striving for the same goal that you are. I know that we can attain our goal eventually, but it is going to be a long road and it will seem so much longer if we each have to walk it alone.
Image credit: Tobias Akerboom (at hutmeelz)