I’ve lost track of my priorities lately. Things that don’t matter to me are higher on my priorities list than things that do matter to me. A perfect example is my prioritizing of my job that pays the bills as a sales rep at AT&T over my animal rights activism. It seems like the two are at constant odds with each other. I can’t seem to find the balance. I work long hours and commute over 60 miles a day to a job that I feel doesn’t do any good for the world. (I guess that’s why they have to pay me to show up.) The benefits are good, the money is great and I get to go home to a full refrigerator, electricity and a sense of security.
But why is security such a high priority? Could there be more important things in the world than security? Shouldn’t those things be higher on my list of priorities? And what good is having a bunch of stuff I don’t have time or energy to enjoy? A house, a car, a bunch of stuff collecting dust. I think security is one of the most overrated things in existence. This doesn’t mean I take security for granted. So many living beings in the world don’t even have their basic needs met. Food, water, health, living a life free from exploitation. As a person who is privileged enough to be in the position to help others, I believe it is not only my obligation to do so, but my duty.
This doesn’t mean I’m going to quit my job and foreclose on my house. All this means is that I’m just not going to prioritize my job over things that are more important to me. Things like attending animal rights demos, doing vegan outreach, or even just driving in my car for the sake of driving and not caring where I end up (what ever happened to those days?). I’m no longer content being a part-time activist. I’m no longer content being a part-time person. I’ve closed myself off from the world and become this AT&T robot. No more.
When the time comes that I die, if I should have any moment to reflect on my life up to that point I hope I don’t count owning a house and car as “accomplishments”. True accomplishments are leaving the world a better place than I found it and staying true to myself by laughing in the face of socially mandated “norms” that are stale, stifling and unimaginative.
Too many of the things in our lives suck the passion right out of us. They tell us to be rational and responsible. But often we embrace these ideas without question while sacrificing that which makes us individuals. Why is it that when you ask someone who they are, nine times out of ten they’ll tell you their name and spit something out about what they do to pay the bills? Have we as unique individuals with a multitude of amazing qualities and passions allowed ourselves to be reduced to a job title? We’ve become walking resumes devoid of any individuality, creativity or vibrancy.
As animal rights activists we need to constantly remind ourselves of our priorities to the animals. Long hours and aching backs won’t stop animal exploiters from torturing and murdering animals, so why should we let those things stop us from putting it to an end?
We also need to constantly ask ourselves tough questions. “What really matters to me in life?” “How committed am I to animal rights?” “What would I be willing to give up to achieve my goals?” “Does my current lifestyle reflect my answers to these questions?” “What can I do differently so that it will?”
I’m done with the excuses. I’m done prioritizing security over everything else. The animals don’t need endless Facebook debates or petty feuds between activists. The animals need action. Any kind of action that yields visible positive change, whether that is spending your day doing vegan outreach or your night rescuing animals. An activist must be active.
I am not a sales rep at AT&T. I am an animal rights activist. I am a living, breathing, feeling person with passions and convictions. I will never allow myself to forget that again.