As new, vibrant buds herald spring, I’m writing my inaugural blog post to you…reflecting on all we have accomplished for animals in labs. The changes we help create, those we set in motion, and the care we offer animals rescued and forever safe in sanctuary. Yet, given the nature of our work, I cannot avoid thinking about news that added to our list of all that remains to be done for animals. As a record-breaking New England winter was coming to an end, we were hit with a New York Times investigative report of a harsh and newly exposed area of abuse – animal research in the agricultural meat production industry. Just when you think you are fortified against the most horrific stories of use and abuse, you realize there is still more, much of which will cause you to nearly double over in pain from the sorrow and rage that comes when one bears witness to unspeakable cruelty. The accounts highlighted in the Times’ article brought to light atrocities in an area of animal research too hidden and horrific to think possible; funded, yet again, by our federal tax dollars (demand an end to horrific taxpayer-funded research on animals on farms).
Given NEAVS’ mission, passion, and the solidarity we share with compassionate, thinking people everywhere, I am reminded that some believe change is only possible through new policies and laws. Yet, we know too well that laws are only as effective as the watchful eyes whose job it is to enforce them. They are only as good as the protections built-in preventing anyone from hiding from them.
Genuine protections for animals can only happen when the law of human decency is entrenched in our social and personal fabric. However, the law of human decency has been weakened by greed, the narcissism of ‘me first, me only,’ and adrenaline-driven aggression, which can be found in every corner of society. Unless each and every one of us commits to empathy, compassion, and a genuine reverence for all – humans, animals, trees, mountains, oceans – the slippery slope we are on could find itself moving at an ever accelerating rate.
Therefore, we must hold our legislators and government agencies accountable to this ultimate law. Ending political power games within our government, as well as in private and nonprofit organizations, must rise to the top of our priorities. We must never accept the words “because it is not in the law” as an excuse for inactivity or lack of leadership. We must remember there is a higher ethic than man-made laws; there is a better way than blindly following the profit-protecting language of most laws, put in place by lobbyists for the financial interest of industries benefiting from animal use and abuse. That better way is called empathy – the simple and profound ability to understand and share another’s feelings and needs as if they were your own. If everyone was committed to the law of human decency, we would realize the changes we now laboriously work to achieve – not in the often painfully slow incremental steps we now make – but, in a swift wave.
What would happen if we all committed to a ‘no more nonsense’ attitude? If we were all brave enough to stand up to the ‘bullies’ who harm someone we love or exploit those we share the planet with and who enjoy their innate right to be here just as we do? What if we stood up, strong and firm, to those who do not esteem our very breathing and living earth herself? To do good animal work, we must be committed to challenging the motivations and decisions that harm the animals we serve everywhere they appear. Personally, I am at that point in my life – an age-anointed right – where the convictions of my youth, as well as lessons and wisdom of my maturing years, can be stood upon without apology.
This is my promise to you. NEAVS will continue our work by every means society allows. We will do so without ever backing off or being thwarted by those who try to block the caring path we pave. And because you too care, we will continue to reach out to you – bringing you the most up-to-date reports on topics that impact all of the animals we serve. Through our eNEWS, eALERTS, Facebook, and now NEAVS’ monthly blog, we are committed to providing you with relevant news and how you can take action to help us, one day, end the use of animals in research, testing, and education. Stay with us on this road that will get us to that ‘one day’ in the very near future…because even one animal in a lab, is one too many!
For the animals,
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.