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October 12, 2012: Why it's important to act instead of complaining

Originally posted on this blog.

I was talking to a woman yesterday about some stray cats in our neighborhood and she mentioned that she had seen someone trying to poison them. I asked her if she had called the police, to which she replied that she had not. “They don’t care about things like that”, she said.

On one level, I completely understand her. The police in many countries, including this one, have often proved themselves less than stellar defenders of animals. One one hand, there is a growing consciousness out there about the plight of animals, and the need to protect them against abuse and mistreatment, and new animal protection laws are being created. These laws, however, are often not enforced, since the police are seldom as advanced in their compassion as the lawmakers who created the laws. One way to remedy this is for the people who create these laws to follow up on them, making sure that the people who later enforce them are briefed on their importance. They shouldn’t just be created and then forgotten.

The most important thing to remember here is that a better society, one in which animal protection laws are both created and properly implemented, starts with us. As always, we can either accept the injustices around us, or take concrete steps to change them. The woman who I mentioned above is obviously a kind person, one who cares about animals. Still, I can’t help but think that she could benefit these animals a lot more if she would take even the tiniest step to try to change the way the police treat these types of cases, instead of just complaining about this. Whether we’re talking about the government, legislators, the police force, etc., things only change when people get vocal and get active about the injustices that bother them. Every voice counts, and the more voices speak up, the more likely they will be heard. If this woman, and 20 individuals like her, for instance, call the local police station and voice their concern over people poisoning animals, there is a better chance that this injustice will register on the police’s radar as something that has to be dealt with. If not, the police might not be aware of this, or, as is often the case, not aware of how important it is to people. This type of ignorance should be challenged, not smugly frowned upon. This is especially important when dealing with animal protection issues, as there is a lot more ignorance (and lack of interest) in these types of matters than with matters where people or physical property are concerned.

Whenever we feel helpless, we should remember that everyone who has undertaken a seemingly impossible task has felt the same. History is full of such cases, many of which have made the impossible possible. There were times when people thought that children would never stop working in factories, where women would never vote, where slavery would never end, where violence would never dissipate, where animals would never get laws of any kind. All of these presuppositions have been proven wrong, but not because people quietly complained about how unfair the world was, but because they didn’t give up and took concrete steps to remedy the situation. If it wasn’t for this type of attitude, nothing would have changed.

The longer we let things stagnate, the more stagnant they will become. If we see an injustice, we should report it – to the police, to our local government, to our representatives, to animal protection societies. If we live in a society where these channels are ineffective, we should get together with other like-minded individuals and try to change the channels. This is the path to progress. As conscious individuals, we should assume an active role in showing people a better way to interact with other animals, one based on empathy and respect. It’s up to us to be vigilant, and to try to incorporate the fair treatment of other animals into our society.

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