Zachary Layner offers another perspective on the future of the animal movement.
How Animal Rights Advocates Win the Oncoming War:
by Zachary Layner
Animal Rights Advocates mean well, but are missing the key to garner broad effective change. We are set on all these individual battles, without considering the larger oncoming war. Collectively, there is a piece of the puzzle we’ve yet to put together. A piece that could bring unity, clarity and a structural foundation for rising up to end the unnecessary exploitation of all living things.
What is it? How do we get there?
There is an old adage, “You reap what you sow.” Most look at this expression as a personal anecdote for motivation, however in the context of effective global change, if a mass of people seek the overthrow of oppressive measures by violent means, we risk becoming the very tyrants we sought to depose. As peace and harmony seeking Activists, do we take up violent means against these horrifying oppressors? Do we risk selling out our humanity, the same humanity that got us to be the Animal Rights Advocate we are today?
Is peaceful resistance the answer? Gandhi, MLKJ and Nelson Mandela are a few of the better known names who led mass movements against oppressive forces using tactics that mostly fall under the peace driven banner. Based on their tremendous successes, it seems Animal Rights Activists need to lead by their example; the problem then becomes where do we find the type of mass backing they inevitably had?
Why did these other ending oppression movements work while the one for animal rights still falls into miniscule support? The unfortunate reality is most movements happen through the eyes of the individual and their own personal experience. If one is not personally affected, they dare not go out on a limb for an issue they do not relate to. Most will never know what it is like to be tortured their entire lives, stuck in a cage. Most only have the extension of empathy if even that; where as these other movements were supported in mass by those who experienced oppression first hand.
Movements inevitably rely on a unifying factor. An ideal. A belief. A common enemy. For Gandhi, Mandela and MLKJ it was freedom from their historical oppressors – Freedom to be individuals, to be their own people, to be equal in the eyes of those around them. Our cause as Animal Rights Advocates is much more difficult, because we cannot point to a mirror of suffering and cruelty. We can only provide a window glass, many of which will never be looked through honestly.
So, how do we as Animal Rights Advocates get mass support when so few will be able to relate?
Organization. Strong, principled, ethical, intelligent organization.
Organization is the foundational key to successful movements. Organizations are what people get involved with – ten fold to good ideas. The 99% movement in 2011 was a resonating idea among the masses, yet it failed miserably due to the lack of clear message and organization.
Clubs, Gangs, Cults. Political Parties, Movements, Companies. Religions, Countries, Militaries. Organizations garner unyielding support of the masses, when they are functional enough and when their message is clear and unifying.
Albert Einstein talked at length about the need of an “Ethical Culture” for the whole of humanity to continue to grow and progress. He also understood the importance of the removal of an omnipotent in religious dogma, substituted with logic, science and intelligence. For his time he thought Buddhism was the most likely “religion” to provide a solid “Ethical Culture” while also being an open enough ideology to accept logic and science into the fold. But as long-standing ideologies go, they tend to fall into the traps of their own bureaucracy, dogma and misguided hands.
Based on Einstein’s understanding, the answer for the Animal Rights Advocate lies then in the organization of those free from the dogma of religion, but in need of coming together around ethical principles and scientific ideas. The Animal Rights Movement is in need of its own principled ideology. Not an age-old religion like Buddhism, but a new organization of ethics promoted through the use of logic, intelligence and science.
If we, as Animal Rights Advocates put Einstein’s theories together, it is safe to assume he would be for an ideological organization that promotes an “Ethical Culture” backed by logic and science – An ideal that is built out of the “Golden Rule,” which Einstein applauded on its own merit, but extending it to all living things. “Treat others how you wish to be treated,” can and should apply to all of this Universe’s creatures.
The Animal Rights Movement’s success lies in the unity around a set of core principles geared toward building an “Ethical Culture”, but welcoming the ongoing pursuit of intelligence through logic and science. It needs to be shapeable, open and compassionate. It needs to set out on a journey while aiming for an ideal destination. It needs to be principled to bring people in, but not rigid to turn people away. It needs clarity of leadership, vision and acceptance. It needs a name.
Whether it ends up being titled Veganism or some other label, the Animal Rights Advocate will only ever have the support it needs for a movement like we’ve seen in South Africa, India and the States when people rise up together because they have a clear mission and the unrelenting support of a large community.
The only way we will ever have our Animal Rights Movement carved into the history books is if we unify around a commonly accepted set of ideals, mold our ethical culture and work to build our “sanctuaries” in and around schools until every street corner has a window into the cruel suffering world our actions enable. That’s not all. If we build the foundation and provide people purpose, hope, compassion, enlightenment and intelligence, we will pave the worthy future we so desperately wish for our world.
Until we become truly organized, we are considered a fad. We are a diet. We are extremists. We are outsiders. We are aliens.
Until we get principled, humbled and organized, our movement is a blog post, veggie sandwich and a lesson on what someday could be.
Einstein talked about the need for the greatest minds of his time to get together and be a voice for intelligence and thus people. Einstein understood the importance of an “Ethical Culture,” the freedom from the dogma of religion and the vitality of a freethinking scientific mind.
When Animal Rights Advocates consider Einstein’s wisdom, we will organize and pave the way until “No animals were harmed” is plastered on every grocery store and every last factory line.
Our ideas and principles have already been presented across the board. We just need to build the foundations of an organized entity set on sharing our clear vision with the world. Only then will we be on our way to peacefully waging and winning the Animal Rights war.