08 Apr Today is an emotional day…. reflections one year on during a global pandemic.
Today, April 8, 2020, marks one year since Australia saw the largest coordinated direct action for animals that has ever taken place. Six slaughterhouses across the country and a government building were occupied, kill lines were temporarily halted, a place of captivity and violence against aquatic animals was obstructed and the Melbourne city centre was shut down. The lives of six sheep were liberated, a mainstream and independent media frenzy was sparked, and the film Dominion was viewed tens of thousands of times – one year on having reached 1.8 million. Read more here.
The brave actions of hundreds of activists forced our treatment of other animals into the spotlight and made the people of this country and many others around the globe consider their relationship with them. In depth nuanced discussions regarding animal use and abuse spread throughout the workplace, the media, and the dinner table for the weeks and months that followed, and the subject remains present and ever growing in the human psyche today. But how much has been learned?
So much has been achieved in raising awareness and inspiring change in others yet so much remains the same for the animals who the majority of our species continue to unnecessarily oppress for food, clothing, entertainment and experiments. And of course, the struggle remains for the trillions of free-living aquatic and land animals whose environments we are continuing to encroach on and destroy. Inefficient land use by using animals in agriculture, the expansion of logging and mining industries and human population growth combined with climate change, bush fires and pollution are making their very existence increasingly challenging and for many impossible.
Reflecting back 1 year on is a bag of such mixed emotions. Our global landscape has been altered so dramatically since that day. A series of draconian laws have been passed to silence those taking action to create a safer, kinder, more habitable and just world, the Australian bushfire crisis devastated communities and wildlife across the country, and we currently sit confined to our homes with many of our civil liberties (which were becoming increasingly under threat), now temporarily torn away in a battle to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, throughout all three of these important events, the root causes or major contributors are being largely ignored.
Governments, elites and the broader community support human supremacy over other animals and our shared environment and therefore repeatedly create or willingly buy into rhetoric that allows laws to be passed that silence dissent and threaten the freedoms that are essential to a functioning democratic society. Whistle blowers who expose industry deception and extreme violence being perpetrated against vulnerable animals are treated as criminals and are now at risk of huge fines and jail time, paving the way for further ecocide and violence in our society that ultimately does not serve anyone.
The bush fires highlighted a continued absolute disconnect between the animals we wish to see protected and those we wish to remain as objects for our use. Whilst the world watched on and felt devastated as scenes of scorched koalas and kangaroos flashed across their screens, their hearts and their wallets poured open as what must be into the hundreds of millions of dollars were directed toward helping save this land’s precious free-living animals. Meanwhile, the hundreds of thousands of animals we raise for food and fibre who were burned to death were barely mentioned and when they were for the most part it was in terms of “stock losses”. Worse still, just about all discussion relating to climate change as responsible for the scale, severity and intensity of the fires ignored animal agriculture as a major contributing factor, even by the majority of the climate justice movement. This mind boggling denial also further highlighted how such selective compassion is harming the very animals people claim they want to see protected.
Now among the suffering and mayhem that is being caused by COVID-19, we watch a repeat of the same behaviour where little discussion is addressing the cause of this and so many other pandemics and human lifestyle diseases. Two-thirds of new diseases that have emerged in humans over recent decades are of animal origin and, in part, directly related to the human quest for more animal sourced food. Direct consumption of dead animals and their by-products, intensive animal farming practices and our ever-expanding invasion into areas once occupied only by free-living animal species is enabling the transfer and spread of pandemics which are ultimately harming us all.
The continuation of human supremacy over other animals, our disconnect from the earth we depend on to survive and our inability to learn from past events and make changes to avoid them occurring in the future feels overwhelming and suffocating at times. But from within that, now more than ever we are eager for the time to come when we can again venture outdoors, gather in large groups and take the strongest action we can to help turn this shit show around. People must again be woken from their slumber. They must hear the truth over and over until it seeps through, because what it at stake is simply too precious to lose and the suffering that is and will continue to be endured by trillions of innocents is too great for any of us to become disillusioned.
In struggling to find words of inspiration at this time, we turn to the words of others to do the task for us.
To those who are yet to open themselves up and make the changes they must for a safer, kinder, more habitable and just world…
“The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.”
― C. JoyBell C.
To those who stood up against the status quo on April 8, 2019 and every other day to work towards a better world for all of us…
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
― Rob Siltanen
And to the trillions of animals who continue to unnecessarily suffer at the hands of human greed, indifference and interference, we know you cannot hear us nor see us but it still feels important to say…
…we are here. We may seem quiet at this time, like we have neglected you, like we have given up, but we have not. We are thinking of you in every moment. We are planning, we are strategising, and we are always speaking for you as we build our resilience again. Those who want to ensure you remain oppressed are powerful, but they lack what we hold in abundance – integrity, truth and heart. We are few but we are growing. We are stubborn and determined. As soon as time allows, we will speak louder for you than we have before. We will always express what it is you need to those who have made your lives so void of the beauty and dignity you deserve. We will never compromise. We are forever culpable and in your debt.