Animal rights is the single greatest calling facing the human race. Our movement tackles nearly every aspect of so-called civilized society — and consists of human beings, not animals. And there are billions of them, weaved so firmly into our daily fabric we ourselves who care about them don’t often see them: the hidden ingredients in our food, the animal-tested dyes in our clothes, the bovine-coating on our daily vitamins. These things are wrong — Sea World and Barnum & Bailey and Proctor & Gamble and Oscar Mayer, and the human beings who cater to them, trust in them, demand the supply from them — are wrong because they support the view that nonhuman animals are means to our ends, are tools for research, are simply things or property, period.
They are not. They are none of those things.
But we mustn’t get lost in a battle among ourselves — yes, abolition is our goal; Good God, who could think otherwise? but relieving pain and suffering, alleviating despair, reducing the killing — these are steps along the way. Our movement is similar to other movements — philosophically speaking — but it differs strategically. By the definition of most people, women are not animals, gays are not animals, blacks are not animals; eating animals is not cannibalism; vivisecting animals is not torture, and the list goes on. However right the philosophical definition (and it is right!), we are still talking to humans about animals; we are humans talking to humans about animals. If the victims themselves — like the victims of other movements — could speak on their own behalf, well, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. The war would be over. It would have been over long ago.
And there are no Martin Luther King, Jr.s or Mahatma Gandhis in the animal rights movement to lead the way. There’s no one person — or one organization — to come along to save the day. I’ve been in this movement too long, honoring too many undeserved heroes, to know that certain people in this movement bowing before fanfare are not standing on behalf of animals — but for some other calling: recognition, praise, a trip into the history books. Animals don’t have time for our politics. Or our egos — such games are their biggest enemy.
But your faith and your support and your finances behind real heroes — true “leaders,” people who care with their hearts, not with their heads. People like Mark Glover, who founded LYNX — an organization that quietly, but effectively, shut down the entire fur industry in Great Britain; people like Sally Baker in Virginia who sold her household furniture to raise monies to erect billboards on behalf of trapped animals; people like Lila Brooks who has nearly single-handedly come to the aid of Los Angeles’ urban coyotes; people like Parris Boyd in South Carolina who — despite feeling all alone in the world — argues the case for animal rights on the pages of his county newspaper; people like Neda Demayo of southern California who has provided a permanent safe haven for 100 wild horses who otherwise would have been shot by the U.S. government; people like Denise and Simon Ford who work tirelessly, with very little resources, to speak out on behalf of vivisected animals; people like Vicki Eide who delivered a videotape showing the cruelty and suffering of “downed” animals at a St. Paul stockyard to an Iowan pig slaughtering firm — members of which visited the stockyard that day to express their dismay; people like veterinarian Jeff Young in Colorado who founded “Planned Pethood Plus” to aggressively emphasize spaying and neutering by offering the most affordable services in the state; people like Sherry Hamilton and David Sickles, activists with the Network for Ohio Animal Action, relentless in their pursuit of monkey head-transplanter Robert White; people like Bill Dyer who doesn’t know the meaning of “take a break, willya?” as he fights for animals in every little nook and cranny; people like Dr. Richard McLellan in Southern California, who rescued 21 dogs taken during a raid on an illegal pet-napping scam; people like you. I thank God for people like you.
People like you who wake up in the morning and work on behalf of animals and don’t stop to make speeches, or autograph books, or raise your arms to the heavens for standing ovations — and don’t stop until your body demands that you stop. And — even then — you push yourself a little bit further. You know who you are. You know who I’m talking about. You go to bed each night fearing for your sanity.
Remember this: if the people will lead, the leaders will follow. We encourage you to support the doers — the “little” people who make the “big” people big.