Stop The Oppression Permanently
Internet Discussion Strategies
Various strategies to keep in mind when engaging in e-discussions.
The following provide large number of ideas and insights into animal rights (AR) discussions on internet forums which are useful for both the beginner as well as the experienced communicator. While the items here are not directly related to writing eletters, they may help individuals engaged in general discussions both on and off the net.
The individual sections of this fairly lengthy article are:
Below are some ideas from experience in internet discussions that immediately may be helpful to keep in mind.
1. Always post within the forum guidelines. Remember you are a guest on someone else's forum. Even if you are at diametric odds with forum policy, it usually does little good if you get your post or yourself booted off.
2. When possible, back up your statements with sources or logical verification. It usually isn't useful to suggest something with "... because i say so" or "... because that's how I feel" or "You are wrong and I am right". Even though all of these may be valid and even correct, remember that they don't make your point necessarily and your opponents can use exactly the same arguments on you.
3. Be careful of falling into the 'absolutes traps'. For instance, while most primates are almost exclusively veg, it is foolish to argue that humans should be veg because monkeys are veg (because the latter isn't true and it's a non sequitur anyway). Another trap is that veg folks are always healthier than corpse eaters (you don't have to call them that btw), because it isn't true. What is true is that statistics greatly favor veg folk to not suffer from a variety of diseases such as atheromas, obsesity, cancer, osteoporosis etc which frequent corpse eaters.
4. Don't get into name-calling unless there is a very good reason. For instance, it doesn't accomplish much to call your opponent a heartless brute, because it really doesn't have a great impact beyond the retort that you are a bleeding hearts, anti or what's recently been worse, a liberal! It's a good idea to stay away from political name calling too since some conservatives are far more aware and compassionate towards animals (and people) than some liberals or socialists.
5. Be wary of deflections of various sorts. One of the usual efforts against pro-animal folk is the anti-abortion lobby - ie you care for animals but not unborn fetuses. Or here's a speciesist deflection, "Why are you telling us to stop killing seals when you should be complaining about the slaughterhouses!". The key to remember here is that if you protest A, it doesn't mean that you don't protest B. In other words, it is perfectly legitimate to protest something without protesting everything.
6. An interesting counter-effort that doesn't always take place consciously is rationalization. Here the person doesn't so much oppose you, but justifies why he or she should keep status quo. Corpses eaters come up with stuff like "Grain destroys more soil, so I have to eat meat", or "My doctor (or professor - i came across that believe it or not) said I have to eat meat", or "We can't let the cow population explode" or "Animals gladly give their lives for us" (a most interesting anthropocentric fantasy) or "It tastes good" (that, btw, is the only valid excuse and it's a pretty poor one), or "They'd do it to you if the situation were reversed" (at this point, we're getting borderline crazy), "We're on top of the food chain" (no way, unless you take up cannabilism) or "Monkeys do it" etc. The last one is the appeal to nature fallacy which was hilariously countered by my friend sheepdog:
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I put it to you that it is not for vegetarians to justify our diet, but it is for the meat eaters to justify meat eating. And I further put it to you that anyone who has a choice about his diet and chooses to eat meat can only justify it with reasons all of which fall into one category, the "Because I want to screw like a chimp" category. Look:
"Because I want to (and I want to screw like a chimp)"
"Because it tastes good (and it feels good to screw like a chimp)"
"Because my ancestors ate meat (and they were chimps and I want to screw like a chimp)"
"Because it's natural (and chimps naturally screw a lot and I want to screw like a chimp)"
And if someone insists that you tell them why you do not eat meat, it is enough to say, "Because I do NOT want to screw like a chimp. We can do better than that."
A simple, clear, ethical choice. And therein lies the paradigm shift.
Natural = Good?
(If you want to see more about the appeal to nature fallacy, check out the above thread)
You can find first-rate rationalization and denial all over the internet.
7. Watch out for the divide and conquer technique. Animal rights is a very wide field with many factions some of whom are usually fighting with each other. You have the reformists, welfarists, abolitionists, pseudo-abolitionists, militants, etc. Sometimes your opponents will lump all AR together and accuse you of preaching violence or stopping people from having pets or causing animal suffering or loading your own wallet with cash etc. We can choose to be in a certain camp to get a certain job done and not expend ourselves badmouthing what others are doing. If you don't like what some others are doing, then don't do it. However, the movement is too large and diverse for any one person to say "Only this is AR" especially when all of these factions are part of AR in some way or another.
There are a lot of other ideas and experiences which get into more specifics below.
It is important to be aware of the environment you post in.
For instance, certain forums welcome detailed, analytical exchanges. You can actually work your opponent's arguments into the ground through refutations, error findings, evidence, even laughter. People will actually read what you write.
On the otherhand, some situations are rather like a bad party with everyone talking at once with no one paying particular attention to another's very sensible arguments. Here, it may not be worth making the same kind of effort. It is likely preferable to try to keep the individuals' attention with short posts which don't require much effort on their part to understand. Here, quantity will likely override quality, so if you post frequently to drive a point home, the posts don't need to be brilliant, just forceful.
Also remember that you can write the most elegantly crafted post, but your audience may not be able to understand your cleverness. Intellectual posts work well when talking with people who have a similar disposition, but fail miserably with others. Sometimes very intelligent people are brought to their knees in frustration, because their opponent while not nearly as 'intelligent' or 'educated', happened to be a good deal smarter and came across as more straightforward, honest and actually understandable!
So it's a good idea to adjust one's efforts to maximize efficiency and use the appropriate techniques for the particular situation, while still maintaining one's integrity of course.
We are often outnumbered 5,10, even 20 to 1 in discussions. This is usually not a problem because we have stamina and the opposition doesn't. Additionally, there are always several in any audience who admire our efforts even if they can't quite bring themselves to agree with our message.
So being outnumbered should never worry you. Here is the correct viewpoint on the matter: every time someone opposes you, it is an opportunity to speak the truth, so being outnumbered can actually be turned into a massive advantage.
It obviously takes effort to keep responding, but there are ways to pace oneself by various means such as
These techniques will help you provide a wonderful demonstration of the power a single person actually can wield when one is on the right side of the argument and has the courage to follow one's convictions.
Generally in adversarial situations it is not a good idea to do unto others what you would not want to have done unto yourself. In other words, fight fairly ... or reasonably fairly ... or at least, so it looks like you are fighting reasonably fairly!
Name-calling is one of those childish efforts which usually doesn't accomplish much and often does more to hurt your image than that of your victim. It is usually
The usual rule to follow is to attack the idea not the person.
So when someone says "cats are for petting and cows are for eating", it is perfectly alright to say the statement is speciesist or that the person is acting speciesist or even that the person often makes speciesist statements (assuming it is true).
If you are going to go after the person try to do it somewhat obliquely. A very clever example of this was demonstrated by B in the Horse Set On Fire in Columbia thread -
Suvine: I love horses. That is my dream job to
work on horsebackriding farm.
B: Um Suvine just curious did you happen to read the entire discussion headline beyond the word 'horse'?
If you attack the person for say being threatening or ranting, you are really attacking the behavior and if you can gather together the person's own words demonstrating such, the effect can be absolutely devastating! Not only does it expose the individual to others, it holds up a mirror right in front of that person's face as it is frothing at the mouth.
Above all, don't do anything in this inept fashion that the remarkably out-of-control, rightwingnut SVW was goaded into while screaming at Blacklung about hominid brain development -
Blacklung: What a load of rubbish! rubbish, let
me say it again...rubbish. Can you spell speculation?
SVW: Yes I can you idiot!! Can you spell idiot?
Blacklung: "S" "V" "W"
This can be a tough one if not approached properly. Anthropocentrism is the idea that humans are at the center of everything and all revolves around them.
You see this sort of comment:
Humans are more important, I think. Humans come first because I am human.
Now one needs to be a bit careful as to how to handle this, because as speciesist as it is, the idea has considerable merit in most people's minds. After all, it's giving the universe to humans and it might be difficult to go and tell someone they can't have it all!
Furthermore, if you attack the idea directly, you may be seen as a traitor to your species or even a terrorist (that word is very popular these days). Unfortunately, such labelling can make it difficult for you to make any point for some time to come.
There are, however, several methods to counter this nonsense - none of them involving calling the thing nonsense, btw ... not at least without some preparation.
One of the most famous speeches that environmentalists rely on is Chief Seattle's Web of Life (here are several versions). The key phrases are
The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to
All things are connected like the blood which unites one family
These phrases are understood by even the densest of egotists and are certainly acknowledged by a strong majority. It serves as a good counter, attacking anthropocentrism with a follow-up on the mess humans have made on earth by not paying attention to these truths.
A natural insistence of anthropocentrics is that through evolution, humans are at the top of the food chain (every chain for that matter) and therefore have the right to do whatever they please. The first thing to point out is that one would really need to resort to cannibalism to be truly at the top of the food chain or that possibly bacteria are really at the top since they end up consuming humans.
Then, one can turn the argument around to what evolution is really all about. Scientifically, evolutionary development is not hierarchical as popularly propagated. It is fractal in nature with random branchings at various points.
Philosophically, other opportunities offer themselves. Is it really survival of the fittest (this is Spencer's phrase, btw not Darwin's) or should we expect more than survival at the expense of other creatures? Is evolutionary progress indicative of parasitic domination or symbiotic progression? There is considerable scope for development along these lines that keep humans off the oppressor's pedestal and permit productive association with other lifeforms for mutual benefit.
Some people think that humans are the Apple of God's eye. This wouldn't be so bad if they'd also remember that there is much responsibility that comes with this position. Did the Christian God really intend subjugation or stewardship using the word dominion? It depends to some extent upon the particular translation and interpretation in the bible, but you can see that the former has dire consequences while there is considerable possibility for decency in the latter.
The 'made in the image of god' permits a great opportunity though:
"pretty well all religions, in some form or
another, use the 'we are made in the image of god' line. i do
not think this is done to promote anthropocentricity (though
the idea certainly has been abused for that purpose). rather, i
think it is intended as an evolutionary magnet which entices us
to live our potential.
god being an ideal requires ideal characteristics. therefore god has the wonderful qualities of compassion, kindness, dignity, courage, awareness and respect for the myriad of creations.
if we are indeed made in god's image then surely our creator also blessed us with these same qualities. may be we should start living up to that image. it's only natural."
Natural = Good?
Some people like to think that humans are the only ones capable of moral judgement. This idea is not correct at all (see, for instance, Marc Bekoff's works in cognitive ethology), but it does provide an opportunity to use the anthropocentric thesis to do some good. If humans do indeed have a high moral capacity, then does it not follow that they should be compassionate, kind, generous and fair?
Steve Sapontzis uses such a backdrop:
"He argues that basic moral principles such as
fairness, protecting the weak against the strong, and aiming to
reduce suffering cannot logically be limited to humans because
suffering, distress, enjoyment, and fulfillment are not
exclusively human conditions. The basic standards to which a
moral person should adhere do not simply evaporate when
considering nonhumans rather than humans."
Consistency and Traditional Morality
The above four ideas use aspects of anthropocentrism against itself in an aikido-like fashion. This last one exposes the real intent behind such statements: specifically, the very unanthropocentricness of anthropocentrism. It's quite tilirious!
What some people try to do is link anthropocentrism to the idea of a 'people first' movement. They even try to make it sound like a great humanitarian mission. However, a closer examination shows this is just nonsense. The actual, practical application of has nothing to do with humanity and everything to do with "What's in it for me!"
I eat meat at the expense of other sentient
beings because I want to;
I wear fur at the expense of other sentient beings because i want to;
I wore nike shoes at the expense of other sentient beings (working in sweat shops) because i want to;
I shop at Walmart at the expense of other sentient beings (some of the worst employee treatment) because i want to;
I eat chocolate at the expense of other sentient beings (Ivory Coast child slavery) because i want to.
This is really what anthropocentrism is in most forum discussions: hiding the small weeds by appealing to the big forest. It is not people first at all, it is me first.
So above are 5 ways to handle things when anthropocentrism rears its not so pretty head. The list is not exhaustive and the ideas can, of course, be used in coordinated combination as well.
This is a curious syndrome that people sometimes fall into because they think they've just discovered not only how the entire universe works - but that it works for them exclusively! It is usually a combination of the worst of new age nonsense, anthropocentrism and just plain ego-gratification.
Now, there is nothing inherently obtuse about the new age movement that was so ubiquitous in the 80s. Many of the ideas were even good ones, though there was certainly nothing new in any of them for you'll find pretty well every one in some form if you scan the mainstay religious texts. However, we have to remember that the new age movement provided a very lucrative business too and often had little to do with helping people to discover their inner potential.
As a result, you had the rather amusing situation where the various 'gurus' or 'coaches' go around telling their clients how wonderful and magnificent they were and how the universe itself was conspiring to support, guide and nurture them. The client, no doubt, can not help but feel all wonderful and magnificent and takes to spending a lot of time telling everyone else how wonderful and magnificent he or she was, with a euphoric orgasm that continues for days and days.
There is probably nothing wrong with people telling themselves how wonderful and magnificent they are. There may not even be a problem with the universe being devoted to their interests should the universe choose to be so inclined.
The difficulty comes when these narcissitic ejaculations lead to some really bigoted conclusions such as:
We create our own reality and therefore all
suffering is the person's (or animal's) own creation -- tell
that to the victims.
The universe does what is best for you, therefore you should just accept whatever happens to others -- there's a sure way to glorific apathy.
Animals exist to serve human consciousness development -- huh? even though they were here well before humans (whether you look at it biologically or religiously)
Animals gladly give their lives so that we may thrive -- as though animals really have nothing better to do on the planet.
We are here to learn from all our experiences -- that's terrific! ... but we can surely be strive to be a decent student, graduate and put our knowledge to some good use.
No doubt you can add your own 'encounters of the bizarre kind' to this list we have affectionately called "foo-foo" over the decades.
Some of these people really do mean well and like all of us, are "continuing to grow". Many of them even do wonderful and even magnificent things - they may say and believe foo-foo, but their actions indicate they are not spining their wheels at all!
However, when you see something that really has the appearence of foo-foo, the aroma of foo-foo, and even has potential to win a medal in the foo-foo olympiad, there is a pretty good chance that it is the real foo-foo itself!
One should gently remind foo-fooers of obvious things such as animals are here for their own purposes or that those who are made to suffer don't benefit a great deal by being told that they brought it onto themselves so they could learn from the experience.
One doesn't have to say things in a nasty way, one should be honest for your evidence is certainly truthful while theirs is usually just nebulous fantasizing.
Depending upon the person you are dealing with, you may get a surge of anger (they are just creating their own reality, i guess) or quite possibly an interesting discussion. Some of these people really are open to new ideas, even when these contradict their own old ones.
"You are on a boat with a baby and a puppy. The boat starts to sink. Which are you going to save?"
This is one of those old things from more than a decade ago that anti-animal cheerleaders should know better than to try these days. It appears with various characters, but one is always a human while the other is always an animal. The idea is to force a 'kobiashi maru' (no-win) scenario upon you.
Here's why the cheerleaders think they are being so clever. If you say you'll save the baby, they can criticize you for not being true to your animal rights cause. If you choose the puppy, then they'll scream that you don't value human life hurling various other condemnations.
This can be a frustrating situation, but only if you allow it to be. What some people do is freeze up, because they detect the embedded kobiashi maru. Of course, that invites insistences such as "Hurry up!" or "Answer me now!" from the other side, because they think they've really got you!
The important thing to remember is to stay calm. It's not a kobiashi maru by any means. In fact, it's actually a silly logical fallacy known as False Dilemma.
You can point that out or have a bit of fun.
Here are a series of ways one can deal with this amusing absurdity in order of increasing 'aggressiveness'.
You don't know and (neither does the cheerleader) exactly what they'd do in a given situation. So it's a lousy question because it can't really be answered other than hypothetically.
This is a pretty staid response, but can often be a starting point for more enjoyable pursuits which follow.
This response can sometimes make even the cheerleader think (well at least to the extent of his/her attention span).
U: What can you tell me about the dog and the
C: Huh? Stop stalling and answer the question!
U: Well suppose the dog grows up to be Lassie, but the child grows up to be Hitler? Who would you save?
Notice you've taken the cheerleader's hypothetical, dressed it up a bit and passed it back.
This proves to be an enjoyable exercise and claims that you'll save both. There are variations and can lead to a delightful deadlock or even better:
U: I'll save both.
C: No you can't save both.
U: Yes I can. Really!
C: No you can't.
U: Yes I can. You don't know what a good swimmer I am!
C: Look! You can't save both - understand???!!!
U: Yes I can. You gotta trust me - i can do this!
U: I'll save both.
C: No you can't save both - only one.
U: Why can't I save both?
C: Because you can't! Now answer me!
U: But i want to save both and here's how i'd do it [creating an elaborate rescue mechanism]. What do you think?
U: I'll save both.
C: You can't save both - you can save only one.
U: Why can't i save both?
C: Damn it! Because I say you can't!! Now answer me!!!
U: Okay I'm not saving anyone because I can't swim and thanks to your heartlessness and total lack of compassion you have drowned not only a puppy and a child, but me as well!
A more vicious approach is effected here.
U: What's the matter with you?
C: Huh? What are you talking about?
U: What sort of person hypothetically or otherwise puts at risk the life of not just a puppy, but also an innocent child? You're the one creating this stupid scenario - so just what is wrong with you?
Many years ago I was challenged by a forum's resident looney (SVW from above, in fact) with would you kill your cat to save my grandchildren? Now this fellow was supposedly an elderly rightwing nut (though you never know on forums), so I wanted to be reasonable.
I asked him to explain the situation, but he kept pushing it with the usual "Answer me! Yes or no!!" I said that I couldn't really answer him unless he provided some parameters - for instance, there may be a way to save everyone.
So he got angrier blurting out something like he'd gladly give up his cat for my son without even blinking. I kept trying to explain to him that we need to know the circumstances of the situation. Just what danger are his grandchildren in? Exactly how does my cat's life fit into the picture?
This brought on another tirade on how my answers should be a lesson for the people on the forum demonstrating that AR activists value human life below that of their precious animals.
So it was evidently time to suggest to him that it would appear that he shows very little value for his own grandchildren. He's the one who is putting them in this life or death scenario. He's the one who is not providing me, the one person who could save them, with any information whatsoever. He's the one who will bear the responsibility for their deaths. And all for what? Just so he can try to make his petty point?
He was not seen on the forum for several weeks afterwards. Perhaps he was spending some time with his grandchildren.
So in summary, remember that the situation is only a hypothetical one. As such, you have as much right to paint the scenery as does the anti-animal cheerleader. The attempt is to discredit you by getting you to either be 'untrue' to your cause or to demonize you as a traitor to your species.
You don't have to play the cheerleader's silly game and if some of them are reading this, one would hope they wouldn't waste everyone's time with such immature and ridiculous riffraff.
AR activists are continually bombarded with scenarios of abuse and torture inflicted upon the very creatures they are fighting for. This is understandably a concern because many activists get burned out from the bombardment while many a would-be activist tends to avoid getting involved because doing so would be too emotionally painful for them.
So how can activists deal with this very important concern?
The very first thing to understand is that 'negative' emotions such as Despair, Anger, Hatred, Jealousy, Greed and those other items that sprang forth eons ago from Pandora's Box, all stem from a single source, Fear.
The good news is that Fear is no match for the last entity that came out of that cursed container, Hope.
By Hope we are not talking about some comforting 'want' for a more convenient existence. In fact, it is most important not to let 'wanting' poison the mix, for it too, is a close cousin of Fear.
Lao Tzu said, "By not wanting, there is calm and the world can straighten itself."
Therefore, for your own peace of mind, never 'want' things to be a certain way.
Please understand that 'not wanting' is by no means synonymous with 'not acting'. In fact, action is at its purest when there is no wanting, for it is uncluttered with expectations.
The problem of disappointment comes from linking an expectation to an action. One engages in an action fully expecting a certain result. If the result materializes, euphoria usually follows. If the result is unsatisfactory, one or more of Fear's relatives start up a party. Either way, calmness is sacrificed to glandular secretions.
What needs to be understood is that a particular action may not produce the desired result simply because causality is a tricky business - there are invariably many factors involved which may take the flow of events in a different direction than what one might expect. This doesn't mean one shouldn't plan the action with specific goals in mind. It only means that one shouldn't attach one's wishes with superglue to events that haven't even occurred.
Therefore, do not harbor expectations for your action.
Ok, but suppose things go really bad. Suppose after all your efforts, the situation looks even worse than it did before? Surely, you are entitled to some modicum of misery? Well, of course you are entitled to this anytime, but if it doesn't help you or your cause, why bother?
There is a saying, "Life owes us nothing. We owe life everything. The only way to happiness is to squander oneself in a worthwhile cause." So what is important here is the squandering - never what you (or those you advocate for) are owed.
This idea appears throughout the ancient texts in various forms such as "The battle cannot be won. It cannot be lost. It can only be fought." or the beautifully concise Zen koan, "Working hard, accomplishing no thing".
Therefore, act according to your conscience and damn the consequences!
Please understand that the suggestion is not that one becomes an impassioned robot though there is nothing at all wrong with being so, if this is the style you wish to adopt.
Some wear their Compassion on their sleeve and can sooth the wildest of brutes.
However, understand that Compassion's closest relative is Courage. Those who protest atrocity, those who oppose cruelty, those who rescue sentient beings from torture and death, do so because of their Compassion and also because of their Courage.
What does this mean? It means that if one has Compassion, alongside also travels her close companion, Courage.
Therefore, never feel you lack courage, if you are compassionate. One is never far from the other.
Some people get traumatized by events. They need to understand that events are like waves of water in a stream, part of the flow. The stream cannot be determined from a few waves. In fact, if you get too close to any wave, you'll likely get wet.
Keeping the bigger picture in mind, is a popular saying, but what is being suggested here is quite different. When swimming in a stream one needs to adapt one's motion to coordinate with the larger motion. This is like the 'go with the flow' idea, with one major addition: keep the head above the water.
The flow is nice and energizing, so one doesn't have to be buffetted by the individual waves. However, it is important to watch where the stream is headed or if someone has diverted its course from its true destination, the grand ocean. After all, one doesn't want to end up in someone's resevoir.
Therefore, go with the flow, but only if the flow aligns with your integrity.
Many people get depressed because they feel they are not doing enough. In fact, they worry so much, that they end up doing very little. This is not an uncommon occurence because there is no shortage of causes in this world. However, the matter is not to be dealt with by time management alone. It needs to be handled by a realization that one doesn't have to do it all.
Many years ago, we invited a tree-sitter (protesting the Claycot Sound logging), Leanne Mallet, to speak to our environment and animal rights group. She provided possibly the most significant idea which relates to activism.
She said that some of us are good at writing letters; some are good at organizing events; some like to be out there to protest; some have legal skills; some like to do public speaking; some engage in direct action - we need everyone!
So just because one doesn't have the resources or inclination to ram whaling ships, doesn't mean that one can't write letters. Similarly, just because one is protesting the seal slaughter, doesn't mean that one must hold talks at the library denouncing factory farming.
Therefore, you don't have to do everything, but you can always do something.
Isolation and loneliness are often a reality that activists face. Depending upon location, there may appear to be no one around who shares similar ideas and ideals. Some people handle such situations well - in fact, they like to work alone, but many don't and wish they had some support even within their own home (which is quite often not the case).
Many things have, however, made things better for activists, particularly the internet through which one has contact and access to resources that were not available only a decade ago. Furthermore, even if an activist is unable to do things in the immediate area, it is possible to assist other activists all around the world.
Loneliness though, is something which is more illusory than real.
There was an episode in the Kung Fu series from the 70s where young Kwai Chang Caine had lost his parents. He was very sad and complained of loneliness to his blind teacher, Master Po. "Do you not hear the birds singing?", Po asked, "Do you not notice the crickets jumping or the snakes moving in the grass? In such a crowded place, you feel you are alone. Now tell me, which one of us is the more blind?"
It is well to remember that in addition to the birds, crickets and snakes one has companions such as Pythagoras, Leo Tolstoy, Francis of Assisi, Albert Schweitzer. Ok so they're all dead, but even so their existence is undeniable. Plus we have many to add to the good company in the form of present day activists whose numbers abound!
Therefore, remember you are not alone and not isolated. In fact, you ride in kindred spirit with the best humanity has to offer!
Knowing that one is in the company of good people is reassuring, but what many aren't aware of is that there are other forces at work too.
Historically, humans have become more civilized. It doesn't always look that way of course, but generally, there are more mechanisms in play to encourage good behavior (eg laws, rehabilitation, even therapy) than ever before in the past.
There is greater awareness of the plight of non-human sentient beings. In fact, one of the common whines by animal abusers is that people seem to care more about animals than other people (which is quite understandable after an inspection of the whiner). Due to technological advances as well as education, the animal rights movement has grown faster and larger than any social justice movement (eg anti-racism, feminism, rights for handicapped, rights for children) in history!
And so it should be. For the true measure of one's worth is always tested by how one acts towards those most vulnerable. Do we choose kindness or do we choose cruelty?
The ramifications of such a choice have been expressed by many throughout history:
"For as long as men massacre animals, they will
kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and
pain cannot reap joy and love." (Pythagoras,
"As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields." (Leo Tolstoy, author)
"Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace." (Albert Schweitzer, missionary and statesman)
"If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who deal likewise with their fellow men." (Francis of Assisi, saint)
Our choices do shape our destiny for we can choose to be in alignment or in opposition with the unrelenting and unstoppable force which drives the universe, the force of evolution.
Therefore, know that the force really is with you!
As you can see, there is much beyond despair and anger.
There is hope. She embraces us whether we recognize it or not. She nurtures us through our grief and sorrow as she does all those who suffer in life. She travels with us on our eternal journey, providing cosmic companionship.
For hope is that single candle, whose light no amount of fearful darkness can ever diminish.
So how can something like this possibly happen? Shouldn't one who does good things by supporting worthwhile causes also feel good? One would think so, but there are factors which can make it difficult.
When you have a social justice cause, you can be sure you are going to be opposed by others - well it wouldn't be a social justice cause otherwise. Now the opposition usually oozes themselves into 3 groups:
First, there are the oppressors. They are well-defined, clear in their purpose and intent. You know just where you stand with them.
Then there are the apathetics. These are usually a bunch that don't really care to speak out one way or another. They just want to be left alone so they can keep their hands over their eyes and ears (though not always their mouths).
Finally, there are the saboteurs, those who do know the score (even better than you might) and claim to support you in principle, but seem to have considerable difficulty with the actual practice.
It is important to be aware of these 3 groups simply because each is motivated differently. Understanding the motivation often helps in how we deal with the reactions we get. In fact, it's actually amusing to see all three sides uniting against you but for entirely different reasons. So let's see how this happens using specific attacks made on your efforts - attacks that can make you feel bad, even when you are doing good!
This is an old standard. For some reason, even though everyone is always telling anyone within reach what to do, your efforts are deemed particularly offensive. Well we know the oppressors don't want to be told to stop oppressing and the apathetics don't want to be told to do anything. However, the saboteurs seem to feel that your efforts somehow undermine their appearence of nobility. Because they agree in principle with you, they think you are giving them a bad name, so they attack you forgetting who the real enemy is.
If you remind them of the real enemy, you'll get responses like 'There are no enemies' or the humanitarian 'We are all humans' or the spiritual 'We are all spirits'.
In any case, this entire idea of not telling others what to do is a self-referential piece of silliness because the person has just told you what to do! As such, the effort is not merely contradictory, but also self-annihilating!
If you want to tell people what to do, by all means do so. Just do it politely, sensibly and accurately. You'll likely get impolite, insensible fantasies in response, so someone has to be the voice of sanity and it might as well be you.
So go ahead and tell people what to do, but remember,
Don't feel bad when you are doing something good!
A multitude of evils is sheltered underneath this umbrella. The oppressors are tolerant towards everyone except those who criticise what they do. The apathetics jiggle with their equitable outlook on existence. The saboteurs congratulate themselves for their ability to hold tight to their own highly ethical beliefs while 'understanding' those of the opposition.
When confronting cruelty, hatred and injustice there is no honor in tolerance. In fact, if you tolerate, you are complicit.
Some people have this idea that we should be tolerant because other people just "see things differently". Unfortunately, they also go out of their way to not be tolerant of those see this tolerance thing differently from them. So they'll defend the oppressor (for seeing things differently) and attack you for criticizing the oppressor.
The underlying reasoning here isn't remarkable. At the top of their logic hierarchy sits "Thou shalt be tolerant", but because they are unwilling to go after the oppressor (that would conflict with the top commandment), they go after anything else - forgetting that by not playing fair, they have violated their own standard.
They also don't consider the ramifications of their "not finding fault because others see things differently" premise. It's not really a bad premise, but it can be misapplied very inappropriately because by their reasoning we shouldn't find fault with:
serial killers ... just because they see things
child molesters ... just because they see things differently
slave traders ... just because they see things differently
racists ... just because they see things differently
misogynists ... just because they see things differently
Possibly some of them may want to test their TQ (tolerance quotient) by watching these videos: Animal Rights Songs
So you don't need to subscribe to their school of tolerance, but more importantly,
Don't feel bad when you are doing something good!
There's a lot of gibberish written about love these days - in fact, this has been going on throughout history. It is really a pretty mushy topic anyway, but some self-proclaimed pilgrims have chosen to take it upon themselves to smear the good word everywhere they can.
So the oppressors are full of love for their families whom they feed the broken bodies of sentient beings. The apathetics indulge themselves in the substance feeling love regardless of the horrors they choose to ignore. The saboteurs are practically overflowing with the elixir spilling it with wild abandon upon anyone including those who commit atrocities claiming these are the ones who need compassion for they have merely strayed.
Now love is probably a good idea. However, one really needs to establish what we're talking about here. Going around just 'loving' everyone in sight, might give you warm fuzzies, but it is of little consolation to the veal calf, the battered wife or the tortured prisoner.
So we should really be clear on this matter. Those who profess to 'spread the love' do so for their own benefit. It makes them feel good and much of the time does diddle else.
Those throughout history who really loved, who really understood it, all practiced agape which is the divine love, in fact, the only love. Their love was not of empty words, but of resolute and courageous action. What else could you possibly expect from the divine? When agape appears, there is no room for any petty absurdities such as whimsical tolerance.
Here is a beautiful excerpt from a write-up by Kelin on love and that other stuff:
Even Jesus (and I'm sorry if this offends anyone,
but as a Christian this is my life), who was often thought of
as extremely accepting of everyone because he kept company with
prostitutes, murderers, thiefs, and various other sinners,
differentiated between love and tolerance. He LOVED the people,
but he made it clear that they needed to turn their back on
their sinful actions. I think (obviously) that His is the
perfect example...we should love people, not judge them (where
judging means thinking that because we "saw the light" sooner
than they did that we are somehow better), but still let them
know why it is so important that they change their ways.
Judgement and tolerance
So when you advocate for the downtrodden, when you defend the weak, when you scream for those whose screams cannot be heard, you are actually practising the only love that exists, and therefore,
Don't feel bad when you are doing something good!
Well just why not? Has anyone done anything of value without being a fanatic?
Now it's important to understand that people don't want you to be a fanatic because the repercussions upon them would be quite severe. The oppressors are faced with a single-minded, determined adversary. The apathetics are worried they may be rudely awakened from their snoozing. The saboteurs just don't want someone to do their job better than they are likely not doing in the first place.
Fanatics are a real problem for those wanting to maintain the comfortable status quo. They can prick, fester and gangrenize. They may even force a necessary amputation. They are not nice to have to deal with because they really are serious disturbers. As the saying goes, "Every society honors its live conformists and its dead troublemakers."
If you are planning on being a fanatic, it shouldn't surprise you that you may not win too many popularity contests. It is more than likely you will be assailed by those whose comfort zone you have invaded for "being too extreme".
Well obviously, fanatics are invariably extremists too.
People who complain about extremists rarely know on what hallowed ground they dare to tread. Those who further humanity, people like Schweitzer, Beethoven, McClung, Gandhi, Street, Thoreau were all fanatics, all extremists. Of course, in desperation, you'll be reminded that Hitler was one too! However, the matter is quite easily resolved and was done so eloquently by Martin Luther King from Birmingham jail:
"... though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice: "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God." And John Bunyan: "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." And Abraham Lincoln: "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." And Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal ... " So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime - the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists."
It is really important to recognize your part in this play and be aware of whom you are understudying. When you say your lines, know that they were written long, long ago and repeated over and over again by the best of who ever went on this stage!
When you speak, it is to achieve the right that we strive
When you speak, it is about the peace humanity longs for.
When you speak, it is to nurture that spark within, all but extinguished through complacency, greed and fear.
So be a fanatic, be extreme and,
Don't ever feel bad when you are doing something good!