Every great movement …
Pondering 2012, I concluded it was a roller coaster ride of ups and downs, a suspense novel of waiting to see what would unfold, and a river of endless hours of meetings, decisions, writing, and doing. Personally, it was filled with change and loss that compelled closer self-examination and new choices for tomorrow. Socially, it saw tragedy and a nation’s divided response – with those advocating stringent gun control for a safer world and those afraid of losing what they see as a constitutional right. The year saw Congress flailing in the widening gulf, rather than merging and helping us emerge as a stronger nation. No matter where I turned – to the news, my own heart, or to a friend or colleague – it appears 2012 was a year of working things out and in the end, a year of great benefit from all that work.
While I want to reflect on what NEAVS accomplished, what new challenges we met for the animals, and what needs to be done next, I cannot do this outside of the wider context. We do what we do, no matter the focused mission, always in the service of a broader compassion, deeper social change, and the righting of injustices that humans – and only humans – are capable of and too often sanctify in laws or are rewarded for in dollars.
NEAVS and all animal protection work is part of a fabric of consciousness that seeks to open the eyes and hearts of those whose eyes are turned inward, whose hearts have hardened. I will always remember 2012 as the year when, finally, essential pieces of our anti-vivisection work saw the light of day. To hear, at the very end of 2011, the highest scientific body in the U.S. essentially confirm what we have been saying – not for years or decades, but rather for more than a century after Harvard University established the first dedicated animal lab in neighboring city Cambridge – was a moment like no other in my some 40 years of work for animals. The IOM’s declaration that “most current use of chimpanzees for biomedical research is unnecessary” was the first penetrating installment of our government getting that animal research is not necessary. Their report was no less a song of optimism for a new paradigm in science than was the “discovery” of gravity, fire, or other moments in human history when something that always was finally became understood, accepted, and celebrated.
From that December 2011 moment on, the ball was in play at the highest government levels. Each new event, study, and hearing led to the next and to the soon-to-be day when the first nonhuman species will be spared from harmful, invasive, even deadly research. This Annual Report’s feature story will share with you that timeline and NEAVS’ crucial role in making it happen. Suffice it to know that, in summary, we are seeing in 2012 the truth of a quote I have turned to and sought strength in many, many times in my 17 years as president of NEAVS:
“It is the fate of every truth to be an object of ridicule when it is first acclaimed. … Today it is considered as exaggeration to proclaim constant respect for every form of life as being the serious demand of a rational ethic. But the time is coming when people will be amazed that the human race existed so long before it recognized that thoughtless injury to life is incompatible with real ethics. Ethics is in its unqualified form extended responsibility to everything that has life.”
-Albert Schweitzer, MD
Our work is hard. The hours long. The pressures real. Your support and confidence in us are essential to our spirit and abilities. What we do requires the stamina and commitment to keep standing, all the while feeling often like what we are doing is pushing against strong winds. To then, one day, realize that the wind is now at our back, is a moment not unlike the sun’s warming with full rays after days of gray and rain. While there is still much to be done for chimpanzees and all animals in labs, we can take momentary respite in knowing as John Stuart Mill wisely summarized, “Every great movement must experience three stages: ridicule, discussion, adoption.” We celebrate that 2012 was the year when so much of our effort came to fruition!
For the animals,
Theodora Capaldo, EdD