PAWS Magazine

Issue 43, Fall 1999

Hope For the New Millennium

Ingrid Newkirk
President, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

What happens in the New Millennium isn't a matter of hope, a land of wishes and dream, or a crystal ball type of thing. It is a practical, almost quantifiable, matter. Every step forward, from how many new vegans there will be, to how soon Proctor & Gamble drops all animal tests, to the end of the skin trade and puppy mills, depends on how often we do and say something to make it happen.

Computer programs didn't spontaneously appear in classrooms to replace the stinky formaldehyde frog carcasses any more than Garden Burgers appeared magically on supermarket shelves or Sears cancelled its sponsorship of Ringling Bros. Someone had to say something, write something, challenge someone over the curriculum, the menu, the store manager, the legislator.

Nicely, or not so nicely. Sometimes it was "just" one person, a child even. When people say they feel helpless, they're way off base. The animals are helpless, we aren't. We are powerful. No one will lock us up in a dungeon and pull out our fingernails if we exert our freedom of speech, our freedom of choice, our consumer spending power. We have the luxury of saying what we think, of refusing to do what we do not believe is ethical, and of educating others. We can freely wave our banners, post our placards, speak our minds and then go home to sleep soundly in our comfy beds.

Every campaign now in progress will increase exponentially, depending on how vigorously we educate those around us. If we reduce our work to wishing instead of doing, the ripples in the pond stop. Its that simple and boring. You know the story about the cat who has a litter and, within six months, her first litter is having a litter and within a year, she and all the females from the first litter and now all her granddaughters are multiplying the problem? Well, the math works the positive way when it comes to the lifeblood of our movement, activism. Every single person we educate, even if they resist the process initially, will inevitably influence others in their workplaces, homes, and elsewhere. If you sponsor a billboard about spaying or fur, of course some of the people who read it will discuss it with others and spread its message on. We will make or break animal liberation in the millennium.

This could be the Animals Millennium. The nine billion chickens and pigs and cows and turkeys eaten just in this country every year would beg us to make it so. Beyond them, in the seas, in the forests, in the laboratories and on the fur farms, are many more billions of dear beings who have only us to count on. Let's make our New Millennium resolutions and make our New Millennium resolutions count.

Ingrid Newkirk is President of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Her latest books are "You Can Save the Animals, 251 Simple Ways to Stop Thoughtless Cruelty" and "250 Ways to Make Your Cat Adore You."

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