I’ve heard the term “Never be silent!” but what can I do to enforce this belief, and how should I go about it if I want to do my part for animals?
So you want to help animals? Awesome! When it comes to animal activism, there will always be a divide between the aggressive, the passive and the Assertive approaches. With this in mind, it’s important to know the difference between these types of activism, and which you should use when it comes to doing more than omitting animal products from your life. I will list now the types of activism there are, the pros and cons of each one, and what kind of activism you can still do depending on what category you feel most connected with.
___________ Passive Activism ___________
I will admit, I most likely sway more towards passive activism. Passive activism is usually a very subdued way of expressing one’s feelings and opinions. Many vegetarians or vegans will be passive, meaning, they are most likely going to keep to themselves, though continue to effectively play their part by choosing not to eat animal products or have them in their lifestyle.
Pros – Passive animal activism is effective in that it still plays one of the biggest parts in helping animals, which is to not consume them. Passive vegans are content with the work they do, and gain adequate satisfaction from doing it. Also, those who are not vegetarian or vegan, will never feel lectured by the passive’s actions, leaving the passive free from most arguments on the matter.
Cons – However, Passive activism still has its flaws. In all fairness, Passivity is still very quiet when it comes to animal activism. That is not to say what a passive is doing is bad, but when it comes to speaking out for animals, it can be ineffective when trying to spread a certain message. Passive people tend to lack a voice, both for themselves and others, and they may even change their opinion to please someone else or avoid confrontation. How many of you have told a meat eater you’re vegan for health reasons, when secretly you wanted to say it’s for the animals? I know my hand is up.
What a passive may think – I do plenty to help animals. There’s nothing more I can do. My voice won’t be heard. Who will listen to me? What else is there I can do? They’re ok, I’m not.
What can you do? – If you’re comfortable with your lifestyle, and you believe you’re doing a great job helping animals the way you are, then great. However, if you really want to do more, and you feel you are more of a Passive person, then there are still ways of helping. You can sign petitions for a start. Or you can even start a blog like this, and get your thoughts down for others to read. And as it’s amongst like-minded people, you can even volunteer to help at sanctuaries. You’ll have fun, meet people who share your opinions, and best of all, you won’t have to meet anyone who undermines you.
What to expect – Having a meek personality when it comes to passive animal activism will not set the world on fire, thankfully! But bear in mind with passivity, it can limit your chances of really making your voice heard both in the vegan/vegetarian communities, and also those who you want to spread your message of love to.
___________ Aggressive Activism ___________
I’m sure like me, that at some point in your vegan / vegetarian life, you have wanted to lash out, and tell someone how wrong and evil and stupid they are for eating meat. But if you are more of a passive, then this type of behaviour may only be present in your mind. Aggressive activism sways more towards being in the faces of those you don’t agree with. An aggressive can be seen including a much more physical and an outright verbal approach to animal activism.
Pros – Aggressive animal activism can be very noticeable. Non-vegans and non-vegetarians are very likely to remember aggressive behaviour, and therefore have more of an understanding about their consumerist actions in the future. An aggressive will also have a lot of confidence when it comes to those without a voice. They see no qualms in speaking up for animals when no one else will, and are generally very active with their actions.
Cons – Aggressive behaviour is universally disliked, especially when that behaviour is targeted towards the one on the receiving end. Aggressive actions can be seen as hostile, and therefore an aggressive’s target may feel threatened and see your message as something that is preachy. Many people may even do the opposite of an aggressive’s message to prove a point that they are not willing to be spoken to in such a way, meaning they will continue to eat meat out of retaliation. As an example, imagine a meat eater saying to you: “You’ll die if you don’t get protein, you know that, don’t you, DON’T YOU!” Doesn’t sound great, and the feeling is the same on the meat eater’s receiving end if they had a similar message about eating meat.
What an aggressive may think – No one does enough for animals. People aren’t listening properly. My voice needs hearing. Everyone should listen to me. I will do what it takes. They should be ashamed of themselves. Vegetarianism isn’t good enough. I’m ok, they’re not.
What can you do? – Other than trying to be less aggressive, an aggressive type of activist should turn their skills more towards ‘helping’, other than ‘lecturing.’ Attend peaceful protests. Find out when and where they are in your area, and attend them. You can even make some banners, as long as they are in line with the protest rules. You can write articles for local newspapers so you’re really hitting home, since you are more likely to persuade people in your local area. Join an official Hunt Saboteur group, since these are more focussed on the prevention of a successful hunt, instead of your aggressive intervention of a hunt.
What to expect – It’s important to know that if you identify as an aggressive activist, you will most likely expect some form of defence and retaliation from those you’re trying to spread your word to, though you will most likely be remembered. If sticking to aggressive activism, be sure not to try and hurt anyone, or even yourself, as it can sometimes put you in a difficult situation, particularly with the law. Sadly, the law is still on the side of an abattoir that pays its taxes.
___________ Assertive Activism ___________
If you wish to portray any type of animal activism, it’s probably best to keep it as assertive as possible. Assertiveness and aggressiveness are not the same thing. Whilst aggressiveness focuses more so on forceful and insistent behaviour, an assertive activist is more likely to be understanding of both sides, and offer a diplomatic solution to issues, whilst retaining much of their initial goal and opinions, and they do this whilst retaining respect for others.
Pros – There are many of them. An assertive activist will ooze confidence, but will never try to overthrow a situation with that confidence. They will be able to portray a message without inciting confusion or irritation in those listening to them, and they generally have an arsenal of well-informed facts that engross others. They are patient, and are also able to see both the sides to an argument.
Cons – The main thing an assertive will have to worry about really, is that there is nothing they can do when it comes to closed-minded people. If someone is truly not going to listen to them talk about the facts of the meat or dairy industry for example, then there’s not really much an assertive can do, other that continue to hold themselves in an equal regard to that person. If anything, they may not get as much attention as an aggressive activist, though the attention they do get is generally less defensive and better received.
What an assertive may think – More can always be done for animals. People will listen when they are ready. I respect my views and the views of others. I am confidently well informed. I cannot control others, but I can control myself. Others’ wellbeing is important, but mine is just as so. I’m ok, they’re okay.
What can you do? – If you are an assertive activist, then well done you! Really, it takes a strong person to act assertively. If you are an assertive, you can use your confidence and people skills to really hone your message of love and veganism. Do things for charity, start a blog, attend a rally, peacefully protest, volunteer, sign petitions, write for newspapers, do talks at local events, hold vegan cooking classes, train for a run, get sponsored to jump out a plane, but most importantly, speak with the confidence that you know you have, and spread that message of love.
What to expect – Hopefully with this kind of mentality, many people, vegan or not, should listen and respect what you have to say. As always, expect some sort of retaliation from people who listen to your messages, but being an assertive activist, you will be able to take any criticism and dilute any tension some people may have, all whilst retaining your core values and ethics.
By now, you may have found which area of activism you fit into. Are you a Passive, Aggressive, Assertive, or maybe a bit of each depending on the area of animal activism you primarily delve into? The most important thing to remember when it comes to activism though is to remain as positive as you can be. I mention this very often in my posts, because I genuinely believe it to be true.
If you are able to better yourself in every way, live life to full and hurt nobody doing it, and keep calm and smile on, then people will inevitably follow suit. There is nothing more contagious than positivity and a healthy outlook on life. Some people are too jealous to see you having all the fun, and in turn, will ask you what your secret is.
A good thing about these versions of activism is they can be applied to not just animal rights, but also human, environmental and cultural. As long as a relatively assertive behaviour is shown, we can expect to see positive and evolutionary results to whatever activism we put our minds to.
What kind of activist do you think you are? What types of activism have you done in your life? Do you wish you were more assertive, aggressive or passive? Let us all know in the comments. Thanks!