Two weeks ago, as I was figuratively staggering through the worst existential pummeling I’ve endured since my self-imposed sentence to Dante’s Inferno in the early 90’s, I had a profound (recovering) alcoholic’s moment of clarity.
Alone and grappling with the unwelcome silence of solitude, my mind conjured remembrances of sad and broken people pouring out their souls to other equally broken people, smoke lingering so heavily in the air that one could readily “catch” cancer without taking a drag from a cigarette, the comforting aroma of coffee (a recovering addict’s best friend) wafting through the air , streams of tears flowing like tiny rivers whose headwaters had emerged from the thunderstorms of human pain, raw emotions unflinchingly revealed to a pack of strangers (where does that happen besides AA?), obliterated dreams and shattered lives vividly displayed in Technicolor supported by Dolby Sound, and enough street psychology espoused that an industrious writer could have readily filled the shelves of Barnes and Nobles’ self-help section.
As my memory sharpened and stopped shuffling through a collage of random images, it focused on the (seemingly) heartless bastards who posed the question that nearly everyone was afraid to ask or to address. Faces hard, stoic and expressionless. Arms folded tightly across their chests. Pitiless, yet exuding a tough love forged in the crucible of addiction and self-destruction, I recalled those AA “old timers” looking at an unfortunate newbie who’d just unveiled the wreckage they’d made of their lives and callously demanding to know, “What are you going to do about it?”
Those of you who know me well realize that my extraordinary tenacity and resilience are matched only by my proclivity to not only frequently go out on a limb, but also to saw that limb off behind me. And my saw has been sharp and furiously active over the last couple of years. A number of troubling scenarios have surfaced in my life as a result of my intense above-ground activism, a series of poor choices I have made in my personal life, and some adverse circumstances that simply arose (as the little quip goes, shit happens).
Getting back to my spiritual roots and redoubling my efforts to adhere to the associated values and beliefs of my spirituality are the means by which I am addressing the challenges I have before me. Which brings me to the point of my scribbling here:
As I recently wrote in Spiritual determination finds ways to overcome obstacles and adversity, “my profound spiritual belief is that nonhuman animals are as sacred as human animals.”
Simple yes, but this is an incredibly powerful and subversive core value for a person to have and to practice. It turns our species’ anthropocentric, speciesist, exploitative, oppressive, narcissistic, and greed-driven social, cultural, legal, political, and economic structures on their collective heads. We vegans and Animal Rights Activists are an existential threat to the extant system that values and emphasizes lifeless, soulless and inanimate profit and property over the amazing and precious miracle of life, sentient and otherwise.
And as I’ve discovered from personal experience, despite the fact that many of my fellow aggressive above-ground ARA’s and I have never committed a felony, never committed a significant act of violence, and rarely been involved in physical fights, the louder we chant, the more frequently we demo, the more creative we become with our activism, the more pressure we apply on exploiters via legal means, and the more defiant our First Amendment-protected rhetoric becomes, the more we draw the scrutiny and wrath of the corporate-state complex and its attending information gatherers, inquisitors, and hired guns.
My conclusion is that they fear the Animal Rights Movement, but not for the reasons that they allege. They are not afraid of us committing acts of violence or fomenting open revolution. Our Movement has not killed a single human being and is premised on compassion for defenseless, sentient beings. Ours is a Movement driven by love for nonhuman animals, not hate for their tormentors. Those of us who’ve awoken to the nightmare of wanton torture and murder of nonhuman animals and who have recognized the inherent turpitude of the subjugation, exploitation, and slaughter of sentient beings for human convenience and pleasure are acting with a great deal of restraint in the face of profound evil.
The powers that be are terrified that we might actually succeed in our quest to liberate nonhuman animals and to make veganism the prevailing paradigm. They are desperate to perpetuate the lie that is the status quo: that it’s morally and ethically justifiable and tenable to continue enslaving, abusing, torturing and murdering other sentients when myriad alternative means of feeding ourselves, advancing our medical knowledge, clothing ourselves, and entertaining ourselves exist.
Perpetually wallpapering over the constantly re-emerging truth that the Animal Holocaust (which annihilates nonhumans at a clip of 50 billion per year) is abjectly hypocritical, utterly unnecessary, and deeply malevolent is becoming an increasingly Herculean task as more and more people become enlightened and shed their moral primitivism.
So recognizing both the immense sense of urgency and the moral imperative that we vegan animal liberationists face, I concluded that I needed to renew my devotion to my spirituality, an act which is enabling me to continue lending my chief strengths (my intellect and my capacity to persevere) to both the Animal Rights and the Total Liberation Movements.
As defenders of innocent nonhuman animals, we have the power of both truth and justice on our side. Unless we run out of time and our species eradicates life from Earth, we will eventually prevail.
Meanwhile, on a personal level, surrender is not an option for me, no matter the challenges or obstacles I encounter. To do so would be tantamount to selling my soul. And don’t look for that to happen anytime soon.
Jason Miller, the Senior Editor and Founder of TPC, is a tenacious vegan abolitionist and animal rights activist who lives in Kansas. He has a boundless passion for animal liberation and anti-capitalism. Addicted to reading and learning, he is mostly an autodidact, but he studied liberal arts and philosophy at the University of Missouri Kansas City. In early 2005, he founded the widely read radical blog, Thomas Paine’s Corner. Jason is an accomplished, prolific essayist and his writings on social and political issues have appeared on hundreds of alternative media websites over the last few years. He is a press officer for the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, and the founder of Bite Club of KC, a grassroots animal rights activist group which he started in Kansas City in 2009 and through which he and his allies give animal exploiters some serious hell. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.