Saturday, December 24, 2011

Everyday Direct Action

 I've been thinking a great deal about an interaction I had with a co-worker recently. She had spotted a stray kitten in the alley behind our workplace. She was upset about the kitten's plight, tears starting to fill her eyes. I asked her why she wasn't doing something. She looked at me and said she couldn't

I walked over and picked up the small kitten and put him in my car. I walked back to my co-worker, and questioned why she felt she couldn't help. I received no answer and noticed the kitten's mother. I walked over and picked her up and placed her in my car. I brought them into my home as fosters, knowing that to do otherwise would have meant ignoring their suffering. That was what I felt I couldn't do. 

To be honest, at the time of this interaction, I was furious. The more I think about it, though, I'm left feeling simply perplexed. There is an assumption on many people's parts that participating in direct action means living in an occupied park, getting arrested, and protesting en masse. Or liberating captive and exploited animals from puppy mills, laboratories, fur farms, and slaughterhouses. But those are just some forms of direct action. Direct action is also helping a lost dog get home, educating friends about adopting from a shelter, fostering a litter of kittens, donating your skills to an organization, providing a curious co-worker with a copy of "Why Vegan," or even baking dog cookies for a fundraiser. No action is too small, and all of it is "direct action."

Every single person is capable of some level of direct action. The most critical thing to understand is that each person has the power to help and to create change. 

My coworker thought she couldn't help, so she didn't. The only things stopping her were her own fears and uncertainties. Taking the mother cat and kitten into foster and getting them medical care was a direct action I was able to manage. Helping them meant not only ensuring their immediate safety and comfort, but by getting the mother spayed and the kitten neutered (eventually), future suffering has also been alleviated - what is done today has immediate relief, but stopping suffering before it starts is even better. 

Two weeks ago the kitten went to his new family. This past Friday, the mother cat went to her new family. She was adopted by that co-worker who couldn't help a few short weeks ago. From couldn't to will is a short step, but often people need help to understand their own power. 

If everyone took that short step, even just once, imagine the suffering we could alleviate. We're not asking for a year-end donation. We're asking you to consider taking that short step, or to help others to do so, hopefully all-year long. 

Why not you? Why not now? 

Peace and compassion from all of us at No Voice Unheard. 

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