Dear readers — I bring glad tidings of how my campaign has been progressing. In between chasing my wind-buffeted signs down the street, trying to keep from catching hypothermia,* and stategizing how to maximize my approachability, my days have been — I dare say — enjoyable!
The amount of support has been indescribable. And I’m not even talking about from the local AR community or my friends, though these are indeed encouraging. What has inspired me most of all has been the support I’ve received from those studying and working inside the center. Those with whom I never would have otherwise engaged — current and to-be vivisectors, med students, immunologists, geneticists — beginning to ask questions, listening openly to my opinions, debating.
Although Saturday saw a drastic decline in activity around the facility, it proved one of my favorites so far. Partly due to the euphoria of warmer weather, and probably also because weekends are less hectic than during the week, a disproportionate number of individuals stopped and spoke with me extendedly about my campaign (justifying right there my reasons for holding steady even on the weekends!). In one instance, I held a flyer out to a young man in a lab coat heading inside, clearly trying not to acknowledge me. His eyes caught the paper and he stopped, his expression indicating an internal tempest.
“I can’t take that,” he said. “I’m in the middle of doing research.”
Here’s the part where I could have become self-righteous, telling him he should repent or else face the metaphorphical hammer of “Vegan Justice.” But I tried a different approach, with the two most diasrming words I could muster: “I understand.” After all, so many of these aspiring researchers feel they have to “play the game” in order to get their degree, or to get funding — the axis around which the medical world, unfortunately, rotates. But animals’ lives, I reminded him, are no “game” and there is no ethical end that justifies such brutal means.
“I understand what you’re doing,” he said, as he continued through the door, “but I cannot support it. Animal research is my livelihood.” Well, at least he’s more honest than most vivisectors, who spout off the rehtoric about “saving human lives” and all that jazz.
“But you know it isn’t right. You know that they have feelings — and that they suffer.”
Before the door closed, he gave me a look that said he understood as much, and added, in a resigned tone — “But so do we.”
And though we disagreed, I knew I had struck a chord inside this man, made him reflect — maybe even reconsider — what he was doing. When I saw him leaving later that day I offered to continue the conversation, if he wished to. He replied, sincerely,”I’ll think about it.”
It has really got me thinking about the potential of the consistent, nonconfrontational approach to protest. Like the Civil Rights Movement’s lunch counter demonstrators, I say we as radicals and forward-thinkers must continue to develop, and try out, strategic models to change oppressive institutions in our world, like others have before us.
So here’s my request: Pick a course of action. It can be your own 30 day protest (or you could keep this one going, just sayin’…), an encampment, hunger strike, whatever! Reclaim space and then utilize it to the extent of your imagination. Push yourself to undertake bold and inventive acts. I promise you, if nothing else, you will find it incredibly rewarding. And others will support you.
In other news: Potluck II ruled. We’re about due for Bring Your Animal Friend Day. A million and one thanks to my new friend, the kind med student, who — completely unsolicited — brought me a Veggie Delite from Subway! And to my other who replenished my dwindling stock of flyers that one day. Seriously, contrary to what the university police who read this blog might think, I’m not making this stuff up! And to all those who risk their positions and reputations by offering me support out there: I admire you for remembering that there are things worth standing up for.
“Never stop questioning — the unexamined life is not worth living”
*A really interesting and topical read about the
ethics of using data extrapolated by Nazi doctors