Activism / Animal Rights

Fear Doesn’t Scare Me Anymore

everything you want is on the other side of fearI’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.

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18 thoughts on “Fear Doesn’t Scare Me Anymore

  1. You are so right. Cooking one delicious vegan meal and surprising omnivores not interested in a plant based diet does more than endless FB debates on who is (or how to be) the greatest vegan influence.

    • If cooking for non-vegans is something you enjoy doing, you can certainly do that, but the point of this article is to awaken a sense of urgency in people, pull them out of their passive slumber and force them to confront their fears and be willing to do whatever it takes to save the lives of animals. Rather than the usual potlucks, cooking parties etc. that vegans fall back on because they are comfortable and safe, we need to venture out of our comfort zone and commit to helping animals in real measurable ways.

    • Especially if those omnivores turn into passionate animal lovers/animal advocates and, in turn, introduce 10 of their friends to the joys of living compassionately — of acting in line with their innermost values.

        • Ah, yes, I see your point.

          But I know some vegans who are so reticient about sharing their ethics with others that cooking their first vegan meal for others becomes an emboldening first step.

          Each time we do something new and unselfish, we’re becoming more fearless, no?

          Perhaps we’re each at a different stage in the timid-to-bold arc. I was trying to take into account where Penelope was coming from, that’s all. I apologize if it diverged from the main message here! :-)

  2. Hey Kara,

    After laughing at veganelder’s rah-rah cheer, I have a vision of you hopping along the bunny trail in search of activities that are aligned with your top priority: animal activism.

    Here’s an encouraging video for you as you recharge your bunny batteries :-) and head off on your seek-and-save mission: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FCsyK4aRXQ

    Lately I’ve been watching a few speeches by theater director and UCLA arts professor Peter Sellars (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Sellars), and in one or more of them he’s made this important point, which I’ll paraphrase: If you’re doing what you love, you don’t look to be paid to do it. For example, you don’t need to be paid to feed your children three times a day. You do it because you love to do it. Find your passion and devote yourself to it, and then you’ll really be living. (Apologies to Peter if I completely mangled his words, but I hope I got the essence.)

  3. If in facing ones fears it leads to dialogue with the opposition there’s much more of it on line than in the RW. There’s countless blogs, forums and websites hosted by ardent carnists… Lots of hunting channels on youtube as well as all the animal ag and “meat” centered sites. If anyone wants to step out of their comfort zone it’s easy enough to do without ever leaving home. If nothing else other readers may be fence sitters or have questions answered that lead them to clearer thinking… It also might have a bit more impact than “choir preaching”. (?) :/

    And if verbal confrontation isn’t one’s thing — Cooking for omnivores would qualify as courageous too… If you were as lacking in culinary skills as I believe I am and others might be.

    In the rough of it I think it’s best that we each do what we know we’re good at and what we can be effective in doing. Engaging passionately with nonvegans on a multitude of levels is critical. We each have a place where we can make positive, meaningful changes. In the end I think what each of us does – matters immensely. ;)

    • I generally agree with your above statement. I definitely do not mean to belittle anyone’s contribution toward ending the exploitation of animals. The purpose of this post is to not only express my own feelings about the issue of fear in relation to security, but also to help others realize that there can be more important things in the world than their own comfort and that as animal rights activists, we must constantly remind ourselves of this fact and not be content to rest on our laurels or fall into comforting habits.

  4. Beautifully said, my friend. I’m so so happy you’ve come to this realization, and that I didn’t have to push you, that you came to it on your own. Don’t take this wrong, but I’ve noticed that you’ve been partially defining yourself in terms of your material accumulation. I stopped doing that a long time ago and it was so very liberating. That’s not to say I don’t value some of my things; I LOVE my music collection, my books, my guitar….but these things are not ME, they’re not irreplaceable or even necessary to my happiness and fulfillment. Everything I need, I hold inside my heart and mind. I haven’t defined myself as a “student” or this or that type of wage-slave for damn near a decade. That’s why I call myself a writer, even though it doesn’t make me any money yet. Because it’s the most important thing in my life (it’s also my primary form of activism, so it’s not completely masturbatory or nebulous, I’m trying to change minds and worldviews with my work, and I do). Because it is the PURPOSE of my life.

    Thank you for posting this. It’s a great reminder to other people as well, because so many in the first world–especially the comparatively-very-privileged like us, in a global context–do indeed define themselves and their lives by that which they consume, that which they accumulate, instead of by that which they do to fulfill their souls, enrich and expand their minds, and help others make it through this thing called life–whatever it is.

    –Love and Liberation–

    Jan @ TheRewildWest

  5. Wonderful post that really resonated with me. I know The Onion is just a spoof newspaper, but I found the following article (albeit humorous) so very true and sorta sad. So many of us spend a majority of our waking hours on stuff that we are not passionate about. I suppose there is no real way around it given that we have to keep ourselves clothed, fed and reasonably comfortable. But it makes one stop to think about how we spend our time when not at our “day jobs” as well as learning to say no to extra responsibilities that make us stuck at our “day jobs” longer than we need to be.

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/find-the-thing-youre-most-passionate-about-then-do,31742/

    • OMG that post had me cracking up! Every word of that post seemed like someone took it right out of my head and put it on the screen! How hilariously depressing! I really needed that, so thank you. :)

  6. I like this blog very much because it reflects exactly how much I felt when I had my full time job. But after 10 years there and no life, and therefore no time to do something for the world, I was forced out of there and I was happy to leave. I had been scared to do it for the longest. But being forced out made me look at my life and learn to not be scared anymore. I am now busier than I even was there working on what matters to me, health, animals, writing, create stuff and when I can being out there as well with Vegan outreaches.
    Our society has brainwashed us to become compliant robots. That is the goal of the elite so we don’t rebel or try to make things better and therefore cut into their profits. They have not only turned us into robots but made us into mindless “consumers” instead of citizens of the world.
    Thanks for this blog Kara.

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