Monday, March 12, 2018

Is it wrong to start having hope?


I tend to have a lot of thoughts rolling around in my head, but lately I have not had a lot of time to write a proper blog. I hope you all don’t mind me sharing some of my ramblings with you.

One of my feelings is wondering if it’s wrong to start having hope.

There is so much going on, not only in my world, but in the world around us and in the animal movement, and most of it is not positive.

So why is it that I am finally starting to have some hope?

For so many years I (and others) have held on to secrets of female victims of not only sexual harassers in the animal movement but also both men and women bullies in the animal movement.

I have been bullied myself in this movement by both employers and people in general, as well as by activists who didn’t like the work of F.E.P. and who have tried to silence me and my work and prevent us from getting funding. And then there are some who have just never liked that I haven’t bought into their ways.

I know that not all of the harassers or bullies have been exposed. The fact that some have is an incredible relief, though there are more organizations that need to be cleared of racists, bullies, and harassers.

Although I know many people are disheartened by the acts of people who they once held in high esteem and are possibly feeling saddened―or worse, lost―I feel for you. But please try to remember that the responsibility is really on those who committed these actions.

Please know these revelations ARE progress and mean a better future for human animals who work to advocate for animal rights/liberation. This, overall, means better news for the animals too.

If you have ever worked in an environment where there is a bully, part of your job becomes working to protect yourself and others, and the bullying itself takes time away from helping the animals.

I will state again that many are still out there who have not been exposed, but I am very hopeful that more people will speak out.

I know there has been sympathy for some of these harassers and also concern that they themselves are being bullied, but at the end of the day, our work is for the animals, and these organizations will only be stronger without these employees and with employees who do not spend half of their days talking to other staff, their family, friends, partners, etc., about how badly they are treated.

Trust me. It is trauma, and when you are being traumatized, you talk to others so you feel less alone. Personally, my health was impacted by a bully in our movement to the point where I had to wear a heart monitor, and the doctor was able to pinpoint that my heart palpitated every time I was interacting with this person. The doctor’s recommendation: quit your job. My response: you don’t understand – I want to do the work for the animals!

Why do I have hope here? Because Food Empowerment Project does want to work with other animal groups, but we will not work with groups that have problematic people because they lead to problematic actions.

The idea that even one group right now has cleaned house – it is giving me hope. A bully is gone from an organization.

Another reason to have hope? Those young people in Parkland, Florida, who are taking control of the horrible situation they have endured and using their voices, their votes, and their power to not only create change but to demand it.

When I was in college, one of my jobs for a number of years was at Blockbuster Video. One night, right before we closed, a man put a gun to my face and asked for all of the money out of my register. He told me to kiss the ground, and I remember thinking there is no reason for him not to shoot me as he has the money and I had absolutely nowhere to hide. (Of course, I also was thinking I was not going to kiss the ground as I was wearing a skirt.) He promised to kill my boss and me if we moved in the next 10 minutes. It has taken me decades to get over getting nauseated at the sight of a gun.

I can’t even imagine what it must be like for these young people to have gone through hearing the shots and running for their lives … and like they have stated – to have adults do nothing to take a stand to protect them.

They are inspiring and they are here and now and our future. They are looking out for one another, and that gives me hope for a future that is stronger, more compassionate, and just.

Overall, my hope is coming from people who are speaking the truth – even if they are scared, they are doing it anyway – they are doing it for the greater good, not just themselves.

And I’ll end with one of my favorite quotes:

Leave safety behind. Put your body on the line. Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind – even if your voice shakes. When you least expect it, someone may actually listen to what you have to say. Well-aimed slingshots can topple giants. And do your homework.
―Maggie Kuhn

2 comments:

  1. That's horrifying to hear what you've gone through lauren. Thank you for being a tireless advocate for marginalized humans as well as our fellow animals.

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    1. Thank you, I really appreciate your support.

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