黑猩猩被關在極小的牢籠中長達數十年 (美國人道協會 圖)
It Does Pay to Fight -
Environmental Success Stories
Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies,
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower - but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.
-- Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Every day, millions of people stand up for what they believe in, demanding protection for the Earth's species and life support systems. Injustice abounds in our world, but more people than you think are willing to take on the long, often arduous, frustrating and demoralizing battles to protect our world.
The well funded conservative opposition does its best to make opponents feel like they are wrong and going against the American way. The corporate controlled mainstream media does its best to represent these activists as loners and misfits. But these hard fought efforts by individuals and groups of all ages around the world do have an impact. They are changing the face of our culture.
Just a few years ago, organic food was considered a fad. But thanks to the efforts of food activists who have exposed the dangers of pesticide poisoning, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that pesticide residues remain on most produce, even after it is washed, the organic food industry is now a $6 billion a year business.
J.J. Haapala, an organic seed grower and director of research and education for Oregon Tilth, pours harvested Red Russian kale into a device that separates the seed from debris. (Photo by Brian Prechtel courtesy USDA)
Recently, the USDA released new organic food standards that will increase the confidence of organic food buyers everywhere. The new regulations ban the use of biotechnology and irradiation. Meat producers claiming to be organic cannot feed antibiotics to the cattle and organic dairy cows must have access to pasture.
There are currently more than 10,000 farms across the United States that use organic methods that must now comply with the new regulations. Activists successfully fought the efforts of the National Food Processors Association which wanted the USDA to label organic produce with a statement that such food is no better than other products.
None of these protections would have come about if people had remained silent.
Millions of people care deeply about how poorly animals are treated by mainstream culture. Activists have been fighting inhumane treatment for years, in spite of attempts by the media, politicians, and industry leaders to represent them as a few bleeding heart liberals or extremists. But the large number of people who are members of humane organizations demonstrates that a significant portion of the population puts compassion before profit.
An example of an animal who has been championed by many caring people is the chimpanzee. There may be no animal more abused by our culture. Chimpanzees are humans' closest living cousins. They have more than 98 percent of our genetic code. These intelligent, social beings have a distinct language amongst themselves as well as distinct cultures. Research has shown that they plan for the future, teach their young, use tools, and make moral choices. Chimpanzees in captivity have been taught American Sign Language, and they even pass their acquired language skills on to their children.
There are over 1,100 chimps in federally sponsored laboratories. For nearly every chimp that is used in research, five to 10 have been killed in the wild. Chimps for research are often caught as babies in African forests, chased up trees by dogs after their parents are murdered. After years of being research subjects under often deplorable conditions in laboratories, they are frequently doomed to live out the remainder of their lives in tiny cages. Chimps can live up 60 years.
Legislation recently signed by President Bill Clinton directs the National Institutes of Health to work with humane groups to create sanctuaries for retired and surplus chimps and allocates funding for this purpose. This legislation would never have made it through Congress without the tireless work of many compassionate people and the support of thousands of concerned citizens who were brave enough to stand up for what is right.
It is often difficult to stand up for compassion and truth. All around us are displays of values by the corporate controlled media that suggest only a few weak people care for other people and other life forms. We are constantly told that being independent and free of responsibility should be our ultimate goal, along with owning the most stuff.
Fear of being ridiculed and singled out keeps many of us silent. Many people are intimidated by the threat that they will be labeled a radical, different, or even unchristian. It takes a special kind of courage to withstand these labels from friends, coworkers, and even family.
Everyone has the potential to become a champion for justice and compassion. You don't have to know everything about an issue, and you don't have to be fearless. All you need is practice connecting with your heart and trusting your gut reaction to what is right and what is wrong.
- Keep informed about the happenings in your community and in the world through alternative news sources. Use the newspaper to get ideas, but always do your own research. With the Internet, it is easier than ever.
- Decide that you are going to care and then decide what you care about.
- Choose how far you want to go. Do you want to write letters and email? Do you want to take part in an active protest? There are many different forms of activist expression. All are important.
- Find the groups and organizations that share your views and join them. They can provide you with information and can help magnify your voice. And you won't feel so alone anymore.
- Resist the urge to fit in with what you perceive to be the norm. Take the risk of being who you want to be, someone that a child could look up to and be proud of.
- Decide how you would like to be remembered.
- Work to redefine the concepts of power and strength and security. Maybe we really get our strength from giving all that we have to another and opening up our lives to our neighbors instead of building higher and higher walls.
- ALWAYS concern yourself with the suffering of another, whether human or animal. Move that snail off the sidewalk. Help that lost dog. Buy a sandwich for a homeless person. Don't look away.
This new year marks the beginning of a challenging time for us all. The new conservative presidency in the U.S. has begun to turn back the clock, as every executive branch leader is being hand picked to promote the greed based conservative agenda. We must all find our voices and our hearts and protect what is left of our world. We must show those that would put profit and greed before life that such obscene priorities will not be tolerated.
What we choose to do every day has an incredible effect in our world. Choose with your heart and your soul. Don't be afraid - there's more of us out there than we can possibly imagine.