I have a patient … one of three I still see, who is 86 years old. A lovely man who reminds me of how respectful his generation was and aspired to be. He reminds me of not only how I was raised – the values my family taught me - but more importantly of how the world seems in comparison today. Many wonder if our society has lost its compass. From our over indulging in nearly everything, to setting weak or no limits for our children, we seem to often feed the “me-me-me” pool of personalities. Our over emphasis on money has led to corporations having rights denied to sentient beings like chimpanzees, whales, other animals and the earth. Have we lost true north when it comes to the values that make us kinder to each other, to animals, and to this magnificent planet we call home? Or are some of us working desperately to restore and enhance our stewardship of who and what we have been given to share in our existence?
It is no surprise that some who are vested in the greed and “progress” of higher profits, support the status quo of using animals any which way toward ends that benefit their search for ever more money. It is no surprise those who do so will try to villainize those of us who work for compassion … be that toward animals, trees, rivers - all the non-human life forms created for some grand reason – not the least of which is the lush magnificence of the diversity of life and how each particle of life contributes to the whole.
So why do those who could care less about preserving animals and the earth and instead use and abuse them toward selfish human ends, make those of us who are -- as the term once coined: Warriors of the Rainbow -- the bad guys?
Why is exposing animal abuse considered terrorism? Why do people not want to know what suffering went behind that mouthful of flesh? Why do they get so afraid when we work to end the use of animals in human based research because it is better and more humane science? Why is the choice to travel life with the lightest footprint possible result in name calling like: the “fringe”, the “fanatics,” the “radicals”?
What IF, we turned this upside down and realized that in a mad world, sanity is often erroneously labeled as the madness? What if we always remember that for some their only defense is an offense? And that denial and guilt are often the fuel of aggression?
As a psychologist, I encouraged my students and patients to question the norms and accepted behaviors of our culture and others. I encouraged them to express their own understanding of what is right or wrong and not be led by that river called “what everyone else thinks”. The most important gift we can give any child, any budding adult, is the ability to look and see what is … not what others tell us it is. Quite simply, this is called consciousness.
Recently there was a Facebook post of a young boy in Nepal … vehemently and successfully fighting against the slaughter of his little friend, a young, beautiful black goat he held gently by a lead. Once that young and pure spirited boy understood what was about to happen, he KNEW it was wrong no matter what his parents or other adults believed the god they worships wants. He was oh, around 4 or 5 … and still filled with the innate wisdom of compassion. He could feel and see the world through the eyes of his animal friend, not through the eyes of convention.
It is the million versions of that human spirit that we must rekindle. Objecting to atrocities against animals is THE RIGHT THING TO DO … and no name calling, no laws prohibiting the rightful stand against such horrors should be bowed to - they should be changed.
So, please, along your path on behalf of animals and the earth -- a road often difficult and fraught with obstacles -- wake up every morning and be proud you have a voice willing to speak – in a rumbling tremble or in a loud and clear bellow on behalf of what is wrong with our world. And remember your anger, your outrage, is just another face of your love for it all.
Stay strong ... and always, always, thank you!
Theodora Capaldo, EdD
Theodora Capaldo, EdD, a licensed psychologist, has been president of the New England Anti-Vivisection Society since 1998, and a board member since the 1980s. Dr. Capaldo has presented at national and international conferences, co-authored papers in peer-reviewed journals, has been the subject of various media outlets, and has provided expert assistance to documentaries, articles, and books on animal use in science. She also leads NEAVS’ educational affiliate, the Ethical Science Education Coalition, spearheads NEAVS’ pioneering and successful national campaign Project R&R: Release and Restitution for Chimpanzees in U.S. Laboratories, and is trustee of the American Fund for Alternatives to Animal Research, fostering the development and validation of alternatives to animals.
Photo of Dr. Theodora Capaldo and a rescued goat now in the safety of sanctuary. © JoAnne McArthur