On January 10th of this year, this brand spanking New Year, a rock legend died of cancer – liver cancer. David Bowie was just 69 years old, young by today’s standards many have said. No would argue that in his short time on this earth David Bowie altered the landscape of rock and roll and pushed social boundaries with his sometimes bizarre clothing and hair, his two stage personas, Ziggy Stardust and The Thin White Duke, as well as his provocative comments and claims about his own sexuality, thereby shocking the establishment and titillating the young folk who are always searching for an understanding of their own identities. There is no doubt that his haunting and provocative music and life will endure in the hearts and minds of many for years to come. He will most certainly be remembered for his ability to challenge and shift social mores, especially in North America which he once said was highly puritanical.
Although I did not follow his career, I did enjoy much of the music he created. Looking back, I would have to say that he really was, in a sense, by virtue of always pushing the envelope, his own social movement. I find myself today in a position of relating to David Bowie in a way that I did not while he was alive, even though he was of my generation. This is so, not because I am a news maker of note or even mildly controversial, but rather because I am part of a growing social movement that is pushing its own envelope, demanding change and liberation for all the enslaved nations on this earth, not our earth, just this earth.
I am inspired by David’s song Heroes and by one lyric in particular:
I wish you could swim
Like the dolphins, like dolphins can swim
nothing will keep us together
We can beat them, for ever and ever
Oh we can be Heroes,
just for one day
Because I approach my veganism, advocacy and activism with humility, I kinda’ cringe at the idea of viewing myself as a hero. This has never been my goal or the goal of all the activists who I know personally. But if I look at it from the perspective of the enslaved animals and all who have gone before them, I imagine that if they knew what we are doing, these beings might think of us as heroes, even though, for the most part, we are unable to save them.
I think of photojournalist Jo-Anne McArthur of WeAnimals and The Ghosts in Our Machine who said:
Leaving is always the hardest thing and leaving is the reason why I am haunted. I am closing the door as I leave this factory farm or this mink farm or the slaughterhouse. I am closing the door and leaving them behind. Leaving is the hardest part of my work.
In his poem, Point of View, Shel Silverstein has this to say about the the perspective of enslaved animals.
Thanksgiving dinner’s sad and thankless
Christmas dinner’s dark and blue
When you stop and try to see it
From the turkey’s point of view
Sunday dinner isn’t sunny
Easter feasts are just bad luck
When you see it from the viewpoint
Of a chicken or a duck
Oh how I once loved tuna salad
Pork and lobsters, lamb chops too
‘Till I stopped and looked at dinner
From the dinner’s point of view
Animals who have had the good fortune to be rescued, routinely recognize our efforts and show their thanks in a myriad of ways. This is not surprising because they are, after all, emotional and sentient beings. A most notable video is that of a heartwarming farewell between Jane Goodall and a chimp named Wounda. The chimp had been rescued and nursed back to health before being released back into the wild. Before leaving, Wounda turned back for a last hug filled with emotion, love and thanks.
Annie’s Vegan View
There are so many of them and their plight is pitiful to know about and to witness.
It is the exploited for whom we advocate, wishing that we could be heroes for just one day, so that they might be saved.
May all beings be happy and free.
6 thoughts on “Animal Rights Activists and Vegans: Heroes for a Day?”
You are hero. It doen not matter in our human mind set how we see it, for it is for the animals that live wild or those that are saved by your veganism that you are a hero to. When you have an opportunity to look in their eyes and see that you are letting them live freely, how they wish, free from exploitation, to them you are a hero.
If being a hero is deliberately doing something everyday thus saving a life from despair, misery, torture or death, then you are doing it. Everyday. If everyone could follow your lead, ‘what a wonderful world it would be’- Louis Armstrong…
Thanks and kudos to you and all my animal right activists friends and to those I have not yet met, but support from afar.
We are one voice, standing united with and for the animals. As I said to you on Saturday, I don’t know how to do otherwise knowing what I now know.
Any human who stands up for the rights of an enslaved and tortured soul is a hero because they do so against the majority of their society and are usually isolated, ridiculed and even persecuted for so doing. If that human is then seen to be a hero by those they defend or later by historical perspective, so be it.
I think that most of the animal activists I know would agree that the goal is not to be seen as heroes by anyone, neither the majority of society nor the beings for whom we advocate. I guess my point was that if being seen as heroes by the victims of human choices could save them, then it is a mantle we would be happy to wear. Otherwise the job we do is about humility and serving others.
I’m sorry to have fallen so far behind in keeping up with your posts. It’s been a tough time around here lately and though that’s no excuse, it is the reason. … I know who Shel Silverstein is because of an old friend of mine who I since lost touch with, but I did not know “Point of View” until you posted it. Thanks for sharing that.
You never need to apologize for not keeping up with my posts. I value your input, of course, but understand that life can get in the way. I am sorry that you are struggling at the moment.
Shel Silverstein was a childhood favorite of my daughter. She would read his books from cover to cover and back again.
I love this poem because it says it all.