Pigs and Protest
I spent a few days on holidays with my son last week. He's twenty-one and everything is very black and white for him. There's no in between. We often get into debates about the ways of the world. I try to offer a broader (older) perspective, usually with little or no success. But I keep trying!
We got to talking about people who participate in protests; not just about veganism, but about anything. He has no patience for those people or the events they go to. He thinks they're radicals, they're being stupid, etc. I can remember thinking similarly when I was his age. I thought I had the whole world figured out. A few decades can change an awful lot, including the way we think about things that go on in this mixed up world of ours.
I was watching footage today of a protest in Australia. A group of fifty or sixty vegans broke into a piggery and locked themselves onto the cages so the pigs couldn't be accessed. The footage was horrifying. I dare anybody to watch it and still want to eat bacon. Ever. The mother pigs were in cages only the size of their bodies, on their sides feeding the piglets. Nearby were some dead and dismembered piglets. The look on those adult pig's faces was heartbreaking. It was a look of complete resignation, and sadness and hopelessness. I had to turn it off. I am not as brave as those people. I would have just sat there crying and useless.
Whether you believe in their cause or not isn't the point of this writing. The radicals, the people who go out there and protest, and chain themselves to cages or trees or tractors or whatever – those people get things done. Those people evoke change. Those people go into places with cell phones (how wonderful is this world where we all carry a tiny video camera) and show the rest of us what is really going on. They show us things that we sometimes don't want to know but should know. They show us that there is a world out there that needs change. Desperately.
I'm not talking about violent protests, the extremists, the ones who turn to violence, which just cancels out any possible good they could have done. I'm talking about the people who have a belief that is so strong that they cannot sit by and do nothing. They have to do something, often risking their own safety, not to mention often getting themselves a criminal record in the process. The peaceful protesters who nonetheless make a stand, and they make us notice – for better or for worse.
I was talking to my son about the women's lib movement, yes some of those women were way out there, but they are the ones who started everyone questioning why things were the way they were. They started the change. They got noticed. There's still a long way to go, but the strides made in the last fifty or so years are phenomenal, and things are still changing every day. We can thank those women who got that ball rolling.
So kudos to all those people who put themselves out there. I admire them. I envy them and I'm so proud of them – all of them. It's a great thing to believe so strongly in something that you're willing to take a stand and put yourself in the face of something knowing that you may well pay for it in a whole truckload of ways. Did those protesters save those pigs? Nope. They're all going to live out their miserable lives until it's time for slaughter. But thousands and thousands (millions?) of people saw the inside of that piggery and I'm pretty sure that at least some of those people took a few minutes and researched further. And some of those people will take that information and start protests of their own (and if you're interested in the greatest vegan advocate alive, google James Aspey). That, my friends, is the power and beauty of social media, which contrary to popular belief, is sometimes a very, very good thing.