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A NEW APPROACH TO ANIMAL RIGHTS/ ANIMAL WELFARE ACTIVISM

Urging advocates to get out and learn what others are doing, to see the whole picture and then act accordingly.  Only working diligently to save today's animals is simply a waste of time, effort and resources that will only guarantee that millions and billions of animals in years to come will simply suffer the same fate at the hands of humans.  Discussing problems we need to overcome such as:

---Changing the moral concept of animals in society

---Attacking the root, not the branches

---The problems arise when people attack or discriminate against AW or AR. Usually through a total misunderstanding of what each is wanting to do.

---Creating unnecessary enemies,  assuming our way is the only means of accomplishing our goals, 

---Failing to become involved and to court the local and county government's elected officials.

Additional pages off this site that shed light on similar ideas to help move this effort forward are found at www.21stcenturycares.org/whyvote.htm and www.21stcenturycares.org/whyorganize.htm as well as www.21stcenturycares.org/potential.htm   All provide eye-opening support for the incredible need to group and become more involved.

Looking around us, we often want to think that things are getting better for nonhuman animals thanks to the work of the many organizations, groups and individuals defending the consideration of their interests as sentient beings. But we tend to see everything done "for the animals" as something positive that will make people change their attitudes towards them. This, far from being true, is the last nail in the coffin for this movement and the animals defended by it. A lack of reflection and criticism has driven us to a point at which we are often considered lunatics or emotional freaks. Due to the actual situation of the animal rights movement in terms of strategy, tactics and effectiveness, a new perspective on the issue appears to be necessary.

First of all, I want to express my support to all of those who fight against the exploitation, killing, or use of sentient creatures. Although I show certain disagreements with certain views, methods, or campaigns, I do not underestimate the efforts, good intentions, or work of those carrying them out. Everyone really wanting to help animals should be happy to be criticized so that they can analyze their work better and decide if they can improve what they are doing. It is very sad to see that the most widespread attitude towards criticism is: "If you don't like it, don't do it. You do your thing; I'll do mine." That way, the movement will never develop.

Also, there are things that can be counterproductive, which can affect the work of others, and thus animals. So, if someone is doing something that might damage this cause, we should not shut up. Also, if someone has an idea that could improve our effectiveness, her/his comments should be welcomed, not simply ignored or dismissed without any real consideration. Nobody is perfect, and we constantly do things that could be done in a better way. Lots of times we notice it ourselves after a while, but sometimes we just don't think of it until someone says it. Accepting you were doing something wrong (or simply that you could have done it better) doesn't mean accepting you are a bad or stupid person. What actually shows a lack of wisdom is to think that everything you do is fine and that there is nothing for you to change. Wise people realize they can always do things better and evolve constantly to improve their effectiveness.

Activists should have a deeper look at the issue and see the great power they have to change things on a larger scale. It is understandable that seeing animals suffering in front of us is very difficult to cope with, but those who are not there for us to see are probably hidden because they are suffering much more. And the fact that we don’t see something doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

Still, trying to achieve nonhuman-animal liberation this way seems not only terribly slow but impossible. And let's not forget that those saved animals need attention, which makes many activists spend their time taking care of a few animals instead of saving millions by campaigning (and the same goes for the large sums of money spent on sanctuaries).

We must not lose perspective, and we shall choose those campaigns that will save more animals in the long run. The animals who exist today are a very tiny percentage of the animals who will be killed and tortured in the coming centuries and millennia. Paying excessive attention to those who suffer today is condemning millions more to suffer the same fate. We can’t save them all, but let’s save all the ones we can!

Campaigns such as the ones mentioned are wasting enormous amounts of money, activists, time, and other resources in promoting not the egalitarian treatment of all sentient beings. Not surprising to anyone who actually made it through the entire article, there is simply no better manner of getting more people involved or teaching the masses what they obviously do not know than through humane education. This, my friends, is most useful and effective in our schools, yet most simply cannot see the forest for the trees.

Remember, our primary goal is to save as many animals as possible.  That cannot be achieved if the major focus is on today's animals. We need to recognize the millions and billions of animals yet to be born that are simply ignored until it's almost too late for most of them.  That in itself shows incredible ignorance on the part of humans.

I hope no one feels offended by the comments in this article and that everyone understands that my only intention is to improve the movement to end all exploitation, use, or killing of beings with the ability to suffer and to enjoy life.

Many activists often say that AR and AW groups should work together and not criticize one another. Indeed, there are many groups who call themselves AR and constantly carry out AW campaigns or use AW arguments (e.g., referring to the regulations not being followed in farms or labs, workers causing animals "unnecessary" pain, anesthetics not being used, cages being dirty or small...).

So-called welfarism is the main enemy of AR. You just need to talk to people on the street to find out that there is practically no one saying, "I don't give a damn about animals suffering in factory farms, or in experiments, or during slaughter." Instead, the most common comment is "Oh, yes! This way of treating animals is horrible. But there are farmers who have them on fields and kill them humanely, and experimenters who use anesthetics…" Many others also say, "I know everything about it; I only buy free-range."

Very few people agree with "outright cruelty." What we have to make clear is that it is unfair to breed, use, or kill someone for your own purposes without his/her consent. And, in light of the practical impossibility of being certain about consent in the case of nonhumans, the idea that they can consent must be completely ruled out.

No one can ever say s/he is on the animals’ side when stating that it is acceptable to kill or breed them as long as you do it nicely. It is true that many people that use welfarist methods do actually think that the use of animals should be abolished, but they find their way of campaigning a more effective way of achieving that goal. Nevertheless, for the public, the strategy you follow, and not your objectives, is the idea they have of you. This means that what people understand of a welfarist campaign is that it is fine to use animals if you do it carefully and "humanely." And then, although personally many of us might feel close to those campaigners, publicly we need to oppose them, as they justify the utilization of sentient creatures (or, at least, that is what the public will understand).

Animals are not property; they are not resources. They are individuals with an interest in living their lives, and doing so free from pain, exploitation, or coercion imposed by other actors. Our interest in not being subjected to suffering comes from our ability to feel pain and discomfort. Our interest in living, and doing it in freedom, is due to our ability to feel pleasure and joy. When we die, our interest in not suffering disappears, as we don't suffer when dead. But all our chances of experiencing any further joy or pleasure are ended. That is why all sentient creatures with the ability to feel positive experiences must have the right to live. This should be added to the right to live painlessly and freely (the lack of freedom causes suffering and doesn't allow pleasurable activities to be carried out).

To reach a situation in which public awareness means that fewer animals are killed or exploited is a step towards animal liberation. However, although a change such as animals being killed with less pain or bred in better conditions is not something we should oppose, we must not be the ones to promote it.

Many activists call themselves "animal lovers" and tell others to love animals instead of killing them. This is quite inappropriate, as you can't ask others to feel one thing or another; all that is needed is for people to respect them and to leave them alone. Also, by talking about love instead of justice, we make AR seem like a sentimental issue instead of a very important ethical question. Actually, most people who come up to stalls and say they love animals appear to eat meat or defend vivisection for medical research.

It is more important to teach others that animals matter in themselves and that the fact of harming them is wrong in itself, because they are sentient, not because it is bad for us. Suggesting that the problem of “animal abuse” is that it causes abuse of humans is plain anthropocentrism.