If Not Me, Then Who? If Not Now, Then When?Posted by Joyce Tischler, ALDF's Founder and General Counsel on July 27, 2009
Recently, I’ve gotten several angry letters from a guy named Marty, who demands to know why I haven’t fixed certain animal related problems that he is particularly upset about. I try not to take the accusatory tone personally. I understand Marty’s frustration; in fact, I share it. The degree of suffering experienced by most animals is overwhelming to all of us. The level of exploitation is unfathomable and the fact that most Americans (as well as people from other nations) are completely unaware of it is unpardonable.
In the U.S. alone, nine billion animals are raised in the most egregious factory farm conditions and brutally slaughtered for food every year. On top of that, we hunt 200 million animals annually, kill 20 million in research and testing, another 18 million for dissection, 4 – 5 million so we can kid ourselves that we look sexy in their fur and 5 million dogs and cats die each year in shelters because we treat them as disposable.
I want to assure Marty that we are working our tails off at ALDF, doing everything within our power to protect as many animals as we can. Yet, there’s a part of me that wants to say: hey, fella, stop passing the buck. What are you doing to create the change we both want? Because, the real power lies in significant numbers of people willing to speak up for the animals in every possible way: from letters to the editor, to letters to our elected representatives, to volunteering for the local humane society or animal rights group, to speaking to civic groups; to, well, the list is endless.
Far too may people feel and act as if they are helpless, as if there is some magic to what “the professionals” do. I don’t believe that. Sure, as attorneys, we at ALDF have a unique set of skills, but there are so many other ways to be a voice for the animals. So, one of the things we do on our web site is provide ideas, information and resources so that anyone who cares about animals can take effective action. The real power lies within each of us. Each of us can do something on a regular basis, to actively help reduce the suffering of animals.
If you are reading this blog, I’d suggest that you check out some of the other sections of the ALDF website, because incredible, powerful resources are at your fingertips.
There is a page titled Advocating for Animals and it is filled with links to articles that will get you started. For example, Working with Legislators explains how to effectively contact and influence your elected representatives. If you don’t know who your representatives are, there’s a page on our web site titled Find Your Elected Officials. Go to that page and click on Project Vote Smart. You will be amazed to find all the information you need about who your elected representatives are and how they vote. And, with one more click, you can send your elected representative an e-mail, expressing your opinion about bills that can protect or harm the animals you care deeply about. Do you want to stand up for the animal victims of violent crime in your community? Check out the article titled Attending a Criminal Court Proceeding. What more powerful statement can you make to prosecutors, (who are generally elected officials)?
My message to Marty and everyone else is that we can all be far more effective if you are willing to empower yourself with knowledge and take action. It has never been easier to make your voice heard and the animals have never needed you more than they do right now. Democracy won’t work to protect animals unless each of us gets actively involved. Get active, get out there, do good things!