"Every successful social-change movement has involved a multiplicity of people using a multiplicity of tactics to approach a problem from a multiplicity of angles. Some people push against the bad things that need to be changed while others pull for the good alternatives. Some people work to undermine destructive systems from within while others are knocking down the walls from without. We all need to recognize that and find our place within a multifaceted struggle, being sure to be generous and appreciative of those who are working toward the same goal using different tactics." - pattrice jones
Whether you're new to the world of animal advocacy, a longtime vegan, or traveling somewhere between these points in your life's journey, STRIKING AT THE ROOTS: A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO ANIMAL ACTIVISM is one book you'll want to read. Activists from all walks of life can glean new tips, tricks, strategies, and perhaps even some much-needed motivation from author/activist Mark Hawthorne's introductory guide to acting on behalf of animals.
STRIKING AT THE ROOTS offers an overview of the many types of "animal activism" that advocates may engage in. These range from traditional to high-tech, visible to behind-the-scenes, and dramatic to low-key - as is exemplified by pattrice jones (author of AFTERSHOCK and a founder of Eastern Shore Sanctuary) in the above quote. No matter your personality, interests, and talents, you're sure to find an action you can take to help your fellow earthlings RIGHT NOW.
For example, STRIKING AT THE ROOTS covers eleven general areas of activism, including leafleting; writing (e.g., articles, op-eds, letters to the editor, etc.); tabling; engaging in protests and demonstrations; cooking for and feeding your friends, family, co-workers, and the masses ("food as outreach"); campaigning corporations; volunteering for animal sanctuaries, shelters, and rescue centers, using multimedia (e.g., blogs, web sites, videos, podcasting, etc.) to spread your message; engaging in direction action (including open rescues); working within the legal system; and - perhaps most importantly - taking care of the emotional and psychological needs of oneself and one's comrades as well. Each chapter serves as a general introduction to the topic, with a list of resources for follow-up.
Best of all, a number of prominent animal activists weigh in on their respective areas of expertise: Patty Mark tells of her first open rescue, in which she exposed the cruelty of an Australian battery farm; Mercy for Animals' Nathan Runkle describes his own epiphany, resulting from a chance encounter at the age of eleven with an animal rights leafleter; and Colleen Patrick-Goudreau shares her recipe for deliciously decadent vegan outreach. (Mmmm, vegan chili!)
A running theme of STRIKING AT THE ROOTS is the awesome potential for impact possessed by each and every individual. Just by going vegetarian (or, better yet, vegan), you can save the lives of 100 animals per year. That's one hundred living, sentient beings, spared from miserable lives and excruciating deaths. Now, if you inspire one other individual - just one! - to adopt a veg*n lifestyle, then you've essentially doubled your impact. And if your new veg*n friend can encourage another concerned citizen to eschew animal products...well, you get the idea! Like Merilees's theoretical Brazilian butterfly, whose wing-flapping can be felt throughout the world, one good deed can amplify and inspire many more. Your "activism" can be as simple as living a moral life and serving as an example to others - or as involved as gainful employment with a large animal rights organization. It's your choice. Just do something.
The important lesson to take away from STRIKING AT THE ROOTS is that we all have a part to play in this struggle - and that we must all work together, pooling our complementary skills and insights, if justice and compassion are to prevail.
Yes, Bruce, activism IS the meaning of life!