Wir haben es nicht gewusst - We Did Not Know - A Vegan Story

>>  Sunday, October 3, 2010

Why do I stand up for animals? Why again and again for them, and less, or not at all, for all those people who have no homes, no food or health? Many a child from the slums would give anything for the meals western pets get served every day. Are animals more vulnerable or more helpless than humans? Why do I choose time and again, as I have all my life, for animals when an appeal is made for my volunteer time, action and/or money? Maybe simply because you have to make a choice somewhere, and can't bear the weight of all the world's suffering? Or is it that nowhere injustice and suffering are so 100% clear and distressing as when a defenseless animal is abused? A child from the slums, no matter how hard his life is, is at least a member of the human race. This makes his chances of spending his life in a dark and small cage, or being subjected to painful and frightening medical experiments a lot smaller. Should such a fate befall him, then at least this is a punishable offense, and there's a chance that other people will stand up for him.

But with animals, especially in the western world, the situation is reversed. People have the right to use animals in an economically optimal way, which has resulted in the unscrupulous processing of animals. Producers of medicine are even legally obligated to poison animals, cut them open, mutilate them or torture them psychologically, before a new medicine may be tested on humans. Partly, animal abuse is surely based on many people's conviction that animals are inferior to humans. But I believe that ignorance is an even greater factor in facilitating and maintaining - for me - the most unacceptable forms of animal abuse, namely animal testing and factory farming.

And it's here that I see an opportunity to convert my outrage and powerless anger into something constructive, namely by giving as much information as possible about the purely economical powers behind the pharmaceutical industry and the meat and dairy industry. I'm convinced that every man and every people is able to do the most horrible things to other people at some point, if they allow something so innocent and defenseless as an animal in captivity to be exploited and abused. The German people have been attacked endlessly after WWII on their reply "Wir haben es nicht gewusst". Personally, I think that the masses had indeed no idea of the great atrocities that were committed in their name. And that it is possible to right large-scale wrongs, if enough people learn to see through the lies, propaganda and commercials of a few. (Compare for instance the successes by the anti-nuclear-energy movement.)

In conclusion I do think it's possible to live together with animals in an ethically responsible way, everywhere in the world, as long as people know which wrongs exist, what causes them, and which obvious alternatives exist. Researchers and farmers don't like to admit camera teams into their laboratories and soundproof stables, which is not for nothing. What we don't know won't hurt us; even in our country and elsewhere we 'know nothing', and that's why deep-rooted wrongs can stay in existence and large profits can be made over the backs of animals. This is my motivation to stand up for organizations that defend animal rights: everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I won't be the one to blame that people 'know nothing'. And some way I believe that a society that takes responsibility for its weakest and most dependent members (read: animals), will also be better for its people.

Anna van Beek from the collection of Personal Stories from People Who Stand Up for Animals

3 comments :

Jo Tyler October 6, 2010 at 11:52 AM  

Oh Bea thank you so much for sharing this moving piece. Just brilliant. I have never heard of that book and will definitely want to read it now.

Jo Tyler October 7, 2010 at 3:30 PM  

also...these photos are incredible. Did you put these together, Bea? Or were they in the book?

Bea Elliott October 7, 2010 at 8:23 PM  

You're welcome Jo... Although "sharing" such horrors of this hardly fits what I'd rather do. :( Flowers - or a good bottle of vegan wine would be much better.

Yes, I put the photos together - I'm probably not unlike most activists... I've got a folder filled with things that made me see the similarities of exploitation and enslavement --- I save them and use them... Always hoping someone else might get the connection too.

Am pleased you dropped by. <3