Join me...Over Coffee

[NOTE: "Man" and "his" used throughout to signify mankind aka the human animal.]

COMPASSION - I believe in compassion.
Being compassionate, being kind, to me, is one of the highest goals we can pursue. It is my guide for living a good life. And my circle of compassion does not stop with people I like (nor with just people), it extends to all living creatures and even the earth. Showing as much compassion and doing as little harm as possible to others, to animals and to the planet.

RESPECT - I believe in respect for all living things.

I have read of native American and African tribes who thank even the plants and grains for their sacrifice of life in providing nourishment to man. They do not necessarily believe these living things possess feelings and/or thoughts, but the are simply grateful for them and acknowledging that even if it is “just a plant,” it is dying--ceasing to exist--so that they can sustain their own life. Zen buddhist teachings suggest that all living things plant or animal may be sentient and deserve our respect.
VEGETARIANISM - I believe in all the benefits of a veg'an diet--health, humane, and environmental benefits.

I am a vegetarian. I strive to in all ways to avoid being responsible for or causing pain, suffering or death to another living being when I can sustain myself without inflicting such on them.  I abstain from all forms of meat and flesh (including beef, poultry, pork, venison, rabbit, fish, crustaceans, etc.) as well as the by-products of meat production such as gelatin-based products or cheeses made with rennet. 

I aspire to veganism because I worry about the harm and torment that my drinking milk and eating eggs brings to the animals which produce both products.  I have not achieved that but work to at least diminish my use by choosing alternating cow's milk such as rice or soy milk and tofu in shakes and pasta dishes and by buying only eggs from free-range/cage-free (non-factory farmed) chickens.  I still have a long way to go, but I try my best and that's all anyone can really do.

I do not feel justified in eating anything (or anyone) that I could not or would not be willing to harvest (kill) for myself, thus I do not eat any animals.  I do not believe in the taking of a life or intentional/purposeful infliction of suffering unless it is not a life-and-death situation for me.  In other words, I don’t deny that we all carry an instinct or inherent desire for self-preservation. I acknowledge that no matter what my intellect and ethics tell me is right or how strong my convictions may be, in a life and death circumstance/struggle, I would probably defend myself even to the death of another. Eating meat, however, is not a necessity for the preservation of my life—neither in the immediate nor the long-term, therefore, I do not feel justified in taking an animals life to sustain my own.

As Albert Schweitzer said, "Out of such heart-breaking experiences that often shamed me there slowly arose in me the unshakable conviction that we had the right to bring pain and death to another being only in case of inescapable necessity, and that all of us must feel the horror that lies in thoughtless torturing and killing."

[The Animal World of Albert Schweitzer -- from his journals/writings -- pgs 46-47 (Kindheit pp 25-26)]

RESPONSIBILITY FOR DOMESTICATION - I believe that animals, which we have domesticated over the centuries, are now are responsibility.

There will likely always be a symbiotic relationship between man and beast—necessary for living in harmony and dictated by man’s responsibility for the domestication (and endangering) of animals both that share our homes and our land. This is a responsibility I take serious, but also take with great joy. I love sharing my home and the necessities of life with fellow creatures (especially feline and canine) and sharing mutual affection with them.

I accept that due to man's many mistakes and overpopulation over the years, some animals only survive in zoos or wildlife conservation parks and that is our duty, our moral obligation, to care for those creatures we have endangered through hunting, trapping and the expansion of our borders (population) into their habitats. I support these places so long as the animal's welfare, health and happiness are the foremost priority.

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT & STEWARTSHIP - I believe that we are responsible for so-called "overpopulation" problems involving deer and other wild animals.
It is man’s intervention—intentional and unintentional—that has caused some areas of forest or woods to seem overpopulated by certain specious. Man takes away their land and hunts their predators so that the natural order becomes unnatural.  Then commercial and residential buildings are placed in and near their habitats, roads and highways cut through them and their water sources become polluted so that more animals must occupy smaller parcels of land (with fewer natural population controllers in place) and so they seem overpopulated. Then, government calls upon sharp-shooting hunters to “cull” the herds/flocks to curb population since other methods of population "control" are more costly.
FASHION > FUR, LEATHER, SUEDE, WOOL (et. al.) - I believe animal skins look better on the animals, and we have no right to harvest them for our use.

I believe that it is unnecessary to use animals—killing them and wearing their skins—for clothing as there are a multitude of viable alternatives available. In many, if not all, cases, the synthetic option is a superior product.  With the popularity of the Internet and expansion of shipping companies (with worldwide territories), there remains no excuse for not buying these alternative products. Shopping today for those alternative products is no longer limited to your corner store, the nearest mall or big box discount retailers in your neighborhood. And after all, speaking with our dollars is the best way of making our voice heard.

I am also opposed to commercially produced wool products because, while sheep are not (necessarily) killed in the harvest of wool (it is sheared off them), in the commercial farming settings these sheep are often mistreated and abused to increase production and profits while decreasing care and costs.

HUNTING & TRAPPING - I believe that hunting and trapping is "passé."
Hunting and trapping may have once been a necessity of life, but with stores galore providing for food and clothing needs, hunting and trapping is not necessary. It is like having your cake and shooting it too -- meat and fashionable skins are factory farmed for consumers which means that hunters and trappers often participate in those activites for "sport" or "fun." Also, with innovations and inventions over the centuries, odds are deeply in the hunter's favor. Another problem with hunting is that seldom takes only what he needs--man hunts excessively and often to extinction unbalancing the natural cycle. 
SCIENCE, VIVISECTION & ANIMAL EXPERIMENTATION - I believe that science and scientists should make every effort to find alternatives to using animals in research and that they should discontinue using animals for invasive experimentation as much as possible.

While I dream of utopia, I am still a realist at heart...I know that it is highly unlike in the modern world to convince science and its community that discoveries and solutions can be made and found without animal research, therefore, I personally wish that animals lives not be used, but I am willing to seek a compromise -- to diminish animal use as much as possible. I have read legimate science publications which state that the animal models frequently used in research (for cures of human diseases) are not appropriate or adequate in representing humans.

I absolutely do not believe in the use of animals for testing cosmetics or household cleaners. They are, after years and years of such experiments, uncessary. Therefore, I avoid products tested on animals (and those by made/sold by companies that continue to test products on animals).  I realize that a great many of the products we have now were once tested on animals. By not using products from companies which still test on animals, I am again "voting with my dollars" and avoid supporting them in their continuing conduct.  Also, if/when I write them about their continued use of animals in experimentation and testing when there are viable alternatives available, I am sending them an even more direct message that at least one consumer is not going to support them.

ANIMAL ABUSE & CRUELTY - I believe that we, as a society, should acknowledge animal abuse — active and passive, deliberate and unintentional — and make every effort to put a stop to it.

There are types and degrees of animal abuse and cruelty. Some forms are deliberate, direct and/or intentional while others are indirect, unintentional or resulting from ignorance or neglect.

Deliberate/direct abuse or cruelty is almost always easier to spot (and rail against).  It may involve companion or wild animals beaten, shot, stabbed, strangled, or set on fire out of anger, aggression, boredom and/or psychoses, or domestic animals factory farmed in substandard conditions, mistreated and killed or abused for man’s profit (and pleasure) to meet the needs of his wardrobe or appetite. 

Indirect or passive abuse are often more complicent in nature such as supporting industries which perpetrate or result in the abuse against animals such as buying, using, wearing and/or eating animal products.

CRIME & PUNISHMENT - I believe that those who abuse or neglect animals should be held criminally responsible, and that prosecution and sentencing of same should fit the crimes. I also believe that those who commit crimes in the name of animals and compassion should be willing to take the consequences of that action.

I believe that in prosecuting and sentencing those commiting crimes against animals, the judicial and incarceration systems should offer:

  • Punishment and/or correction including jail time and community service not just probation
  • Rehabilitation including psychology evaluation and (when applicable) treatment
  • Restitution and/or apologies to the victims family (when applicable)

Unfortunately the system often fails due in large part to weak laws and slap-on-the-wrist sentencing of animal abusers. 

DOING MY HOMEWORK, or RESEARCH BEFORE REACTING - I believe in research and thorough knowledge of a subject before I spout off about it. 
I make every effort to verify sources of information, addresses and contacts when I can before I write a letter about an animal issue.   Often, I mention my sources (of information) in the letters I write, and on my website so that if called into question, I am able to cite my source. Additionally, I make a point of locating objective sources (outside the animal rights community) such as news stations or papers so that the validity of facts and claims are not called too much into question.
EARTH RESOURCES, THE ENVIRONMENT & POLLUTION - I believe we are all connected to the earth and bound to doing whatever we can to protect and perserve the earth.
I do not believe in the needless waste of valuable natural resources or preventable pollution.
PEOPLE FOR THE ETHICAL TREATMENT OF ANIMALS (PETA) - I believe that most of the time PETA’s (collective) heart is in the right place even if some of their campaigns, actions or comment are questionable. 
I think that often their methods are extreme and come across asinine and that they often hinder the AR movement and other organizations just as much as they help get publicity for their own campaigns.  I believe they do use some junk or non-confirmed science and skewed historical data for their own means and many of their leaders and PR people believe that the end justifies the means—even if in the end animals haven’t been saved.  I think an obvious indicator of some recent errors in PR judgment (and a subsequently tarnished image of the organization) is the resignation of former co-president and founder, Alex Pancheo who indicated in an interview with Animal’s Agenda that he wanted to be more hands-on in helping animals—more directly saving lives versus campaigning.
ANIMAL LIBERATION FRONT (ALF) - I believe that the original ALF "creed" and purpose was noble...

Current behaviors by individuals acting as and claiming to espouse ALF philosophy are doing more harm than good--to animals and to the legitamacy of the animal rights (animal advocacy) movement. (I also believe I will be unpopular with many animal rights activists for this stance.)

The ORIGINAL ALF CREED as published in the book Free the Animals: The Amazing True Story of the Animal Liberation Front written by PETA Founder and President Ingrid Newkirk as communicated by "K", British ALF Trainer to "Valeria" and Other ALF Trainees:

"The ALF creed prohibits any violence to life of any kind.  Locks, decapitators, electrode implanters, cages, traps are fair game.  But neither man nor mouse do we hurt.  If you fancy that kind of thing, call yourself something else, but don't come around here."

The problem with any non-organized and covert organization is that anyone can act in their name whether or not they are actually following the principal tenents of the (non-)group. At its foundation and origin, the ALF was about respect and compassion. It was about saving lives and causing no harm.  No one, not human or non-human animals, was to be harmed by their actions.  They sought only to rescue animals.  They destroyed only those instruments of vivisection which contributed to suffering and pain and copied research files to document abuse of animals (and funds) they did not destroy them. The non-organization came or evolved in the U.S. simultaneously with PETA, and in the beginning used PETA to disseminate information and documentation about cases involving animal abuse and neglect. 

PETA founder, Alex Pancheo as a college student with high ideals worked as a lab assistant in Springfield where monkeys were the subject of experimentation.  During his time at the lab he discovered and documented abuse and neglect of the subject animals and thus abuse of the funding provided by the NIH.  Atrocities against these creatures was brought to light and so-called scientists were prosecuted by the state. When it looked like the abused creatures would be returned to abusers, individuals dedicated to the original ALF model of rescue came together to steal the chimps and placed them in veterinary care and rehabilitative habitats.  These animals were not released to the wild, no one was harmed, no research/results destroyed. As a result of this case, PETA was formed to fight for the rights of animals as sentient beings. 

That said, I believe that the ALF or those claiming to be ALF have foresaken that original mission of rescue only. They are destructive, dangerous and even in a way abusive. They (and their evironmental equivalent, the Earth Liberation Front/ELF) tarnish the image of those who would seek to stop of the suffering of animals and set back the cause with their unlawful measures.

RESCUE VS RELEASE - I believe in rescuing animals from danger.

Rescue being “removing from danger” -- saving sentient beings (like the severely neglected dog in the neighborhood who will die without intervention) from torture and certain death.  I believe that all law-abiding options should be tried and exhausted before any other actions are considered. I believe that those abusing/neglecting animals should be given the opportunity to make the situation right before further actions are taken. After that, if an individual is willing to break the law to save and rescue an animal, I believe he should be equally willing to face the consequences of that actions as payment or restitution for the salvation he has offered that creature.

I do not believe in the irresponsible release of animals to the wild—be it one, ten, or thousands—which are ill-prepared to survive and will likely negatively impact that environment further upsetting the balance of nature. It is not beneficial to anyone, least of all the animals.  It is a merely a transference of their death sentence from the hands of man to the elements of nature, both of which may be slow and painful. 

I do not believe throwing bricks through windows, dowsing people with paint or ketchup, blowing up or shooting at buildings, setting fires or violently screaming into someone’s face. That is not rescue, that is not educational, and that is most definitely NOT productive. 

My arguments are always and will always be raised, presented and communicated in an environment promoting education, enlightenment and mutual respect.  As an advocate of animals and animal rights, I feel that campaigns which do not promote (and demonstrate) compassion to humans as well as animals, educate or maintain open lines of communication are not beneficial.  Campaigns which utilize humiliation of any sentient being, promote junk science, or skew history are far smart and enlightening.  I have never believed in showy, “in-your-face” methods of communicating my beliefs and have long believed that letting my actions speak as loudly as my words is as important, if not more so, to convincing others that message is valid.

NOTE: This is a draft version written straight from my heart on subjects close to my heart.
Please forgive typos or grammatical errors as I continue to update and revise it.