We all desire to bring harmony between the environment, the human animal, and non-human animals. Countries around the world struggle with both unique cultural animal rights issues as well as common-ground animal rights issues on a daily basis.
Regardless of whether the issue is fur farming, the consumption of dog and cat meat, the slaughter of dolphins, euthanasia of companion animals, hunting and trapping, animal fighting, stray dog and free-roaming community cat populations, or teaching communities about being responsible caregivers, one thing is certain:
No animal rights issue is more tragic than others. All animal abuses are equally horrific.
Specific countries, cultures, and religions are not responsible for the worldwide animal crises. It is the human species as a whole entity that affects our individual and collective thoughts and actions. Humans are responsible for buying into the myths of the animal industry, commercialism, and consumerism that inspires the world economy to profit from the lives of innocent animals.
At the core, the plight of non-human animals is the same everywhere. Education, awareness, and compassion are the answer. Clearly, the first and most important step is understanding and teaching science-based animal behavior and social systems, hence the connection and likeness between all species.
Most people don’t understand animal behavior, and while it’s not fully necessary to understand it completely from a scientific behavioral approach, a basic working knowledge is imperative to communicate to the public how and why all animals – farm, wildlife, and domesticated – are sentient creatures capable of learning and feeling and deserving of the right to life.
This is an absolutely vital learning tool you need to know to be capable of teaching all people, of all origins, and ages. Our goal as animal rights advocates is not to alienate; our goal is to include more people and keep them as part of the animal rights family.
It is not enough to continually bombard the public with horrific images that do not educate and only depict the bloody mess humans create. To continually utilize shock factors with the incessant message, “I’m right and you’re wrong,” does not change minds.
There is a point of no return, when this animal rights message creates a chasm between you, your supporters, and the new people you are trying to reach and bring into the fold.
If your animal rights message does not evolve, educate, and involve others, people will eventually get bored of and dismiss your message. Real animal rights work requires intellect, creativity, and the skill to engage and expand your collective.
Your knowledge of animals and the animal industry, veracity, actions, and individuality are the deciding factors in whether or not the general public takes your message and mission seriously.
Are you a fad or do people remember, learn, share and actually practice your message and compassion?
The alienation and isolation you create between your organization and the larger community is akin to the alienation and isolation of animals suffering in laboratories and slaughterhouses all over the world.
The difference between haphazard and skillfully applied strategies will shape the overall effectiveness of your work. Choose your battles wisely and take risks cautiously. In the end, making a name for yourself does not matter. This is not about you – it’s about the animals.
Unity, creativity, smart thinking, and pushing the boundaries of your capabilities will bring the animal rights movement to its zenith.
This feature is the first in a series about effective animal rights outreach strategies.