I’ve been working (and reworking) a draft about following a blood trail along the paths near the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain. I think that I’ve finally decided to market the piece to a vegetarian/animal rights audience. In making that decision, I’ve had to make many changes to the original draft. These were necessary, of course. The original piece just wasn’t working with the first audience I was targeting–more of the mainstream reader. The piece was anticlimactic, and there was no deeper subject that made it worthwhile for the reader. By switching to an animal rights audience, the piece just logically fits now.
Anyway, because I shifted my target audience, I had to find a new publication for this essay. I did a quick search on the Internet, and I found the perfect home for it. Satya, a magazine that has been in circulation for well over a decade, has a solid reputation worldwide in providing interesting and important news and features about living a vegan life, supporting animal rights, and offering a variety of opportunities for others to get involved (in various degrees of commitment) to the mission of working more closely with the earth and all its creatures in a safe and healthy way.
Last July, the publisher of Satya, Beth Gould, decided to call it quits. Simply put, it seems as if she had tired from the fight. In her final letter to her readers, she wrote the following:
It is difficult to maintain such ideals when evidence of cruelty abounds. It is tempting to fight, to take up arms and to argue, especially when the tangible victories are so scarce. More animals die today, needlessly, painfully, than did 13 years ago, when our first issue came out. Our movement is more fractured. More people are willing to spend their time arguing about theory than creating positive change. But there are more of us than ever. More people willing to stand up, every day in the face of injustice.
The tone of the entire letter seemed drained, yet hopeful that somebody else would pick up the torch and keep the cause going.
That’s story no. 1.
Here’s story no. 2. A student at my school, whom I respect greatly, argued her point that people shouldn’t “throw away” their vote when they don’t vote for a candidate who has a good chance of winning. She couldn’t understand why people would vote (in a general election) for a member of the green party or an independent when it was obvious that the real race was between a democrat and a republican. Likewise, others have argued with me that they couldn’t understand why, in the primaries, a person would vote for Ron Paul or another candidate who was so far away from receiving the majority of the votes within the respective democratic and republican parties.
Finally, I offer story no. 3.
During the late sixties and early seventies, there was such a strong peace movement in this country that just dissolved because so many people felt that it had piqued, that it had reached its maximum impact, and nothing more could be done to make their point any clearer or create a greater following. Fractured peace movements remained along both coasts, but for the most part, the concept of a unified movement had crumbled. Countless peace lovers moved reluctantly into mainstream America, angry, defeated, resigned.
What do these three stories have in common?
I think that, somewhere along the line, we have confused “purpose” with “victory.” We don’t make a stand on our position regarding animal rights because we believe everybody will someday believe us and be “on our side”; we make our stand and create our communities because we believe in it. Period. And we know that others believe in it too. We’ll encourage others to join in our cause, and that’s good for the movement. But we can’t contribute to our missions believing that, someday, we will be the majority.
When we support a certain political candidate that does not align with the mainstream, we are not doing so because we necessarily believe that, at this time, this person will most certainly win the nomination. We do so because our values align most nearly with that candidate, and we vote our conscience. If more people did this, then perhaps the issues that not considered mainstream would be taken more seriously by the people who eventually end up winning the elections. Ron Paul is a great example of a candidate who has no chance at all of winning the nomination; however, much of what he says regarding our domestic affairs makes a lot of sense, and the media (and the other candidates) know it. If people have the courage to vote their conscience, then their voices will be heard, even if their candidate does not win the nomination. The Ralph Naders and Ron Pauls who throw their lives into the race do so to allow others to have their say, to have their voices heard, and if the voice is loud enough, the other “mainstream” candidates have to pay attention and address these issues in their own campaigns.
We pursue what we believe in. We throw our votes away when we cast our ballots for the mainstream candidates who are the “lesser of two evils” instead of voting for the person who actually represents what we believe most strongly in. The victory is not in the win; it’s in the collective, united sound we make so that we can be heard, taken seriously, respected.
Beth Gould should have never closed down her publication, Satya. She should have sold it to somebody else who could continue providing a voice to and for so many. The goal is not to overthrow the world and win; the goal is to be heard so that you can make a difference. Peace lovers were making a difference in the sixties and seventies, Satya was making a difference in the last thirteen years, and candidates like Ron Paul and others are making a difference now. They were all victorious in their missions, in their purpose. To believe that becoming the majority is the only way to define success is a sad misunderstanding.
Make sure that your causes are victorious. Make your voice heard, and never lose the vision and the focus that, no matter how big or small your group is, what you are doing today matters.