"This compulsion to an activity without respite, without variety, without results was so cruel to him that one day, seeing a lump on his abdomen, he felt real joy at the thought that he might have a fatal tumor, that he was no longer going to have to take charge of anything, that it was the disease that would manage him, make him its plaything, until the impending end. And indeed if, during this period, he often desired death though without admitting it to himself, it was to escape not so much the acuteness of his sufferings as the monotony of his struggle."

“Swann’s Way”, Marcel Proust

"Comparative philosophy is a promiscuous activity because the par­ticipants experience a broadening of cultural horizons, and try out new connections, new directions, new ideas, new thoughts, and different ways of thinking and being human. The comparative thinker must remain promiscuous because of the possibility of the fusion of divergent horizons. This promiscuous activity occurs on the margins of philosophy, which is indicative of the uncertainty, risk, and dangers associated with comparative philosophy and one’s willingness to venture one’s self-understanding in the presence of the other. An advantage of being on the margin is that it can offer one a perspective and freedom that one might not have in normal circumstances. The marginal nature of comparative philosophy does not exclude anyone from active engagement in the life of more than one culture. By means of its location on the margins of culture, the comparative philosopher is a liminal being, struggling with revealment and concealment on the margins of differ­ent philosophical cultures trying to make sense of the hermeneutical dialogue in which one is engaged."

Zen and the Art of Postmodern Philosophy

"The struggle is a matter of survival, because so much has been lost already.

Recently, I was at a talk by a couple of people from the Mi’kmaq Warrior Society. They spoke of inspiration, of carrying on, of never giving up… One of the speakers talked about his kids. “I’m doing this for them. I don’t want them to have to go through what I went through.” He had been to jail, he had faced live ammunition from the RCMP. And now he’s away from home on a months long speaking tour.

Similarly, on a recent episode of Democracy Now! a woman from Bahrain was being interviewed. She had faced harsh consequences for protesting the government there, and her young daughter would wake up at night worried that she would be taken to jail. She said the same thing: “I’m doing this for her.”

A lot of people in the very White, very privileged community I organize in might say, this is irresponsible — that, once you have kids, you can’t go around doing that stuff any more.

But in my opinion, it’s precisely those of us that have the privilege-to-choose-to-walk-away from the struggle that have the responsibility not to.

At the same time […] very few of those kids [may] recognize or appreciate that. Overwhelmingly, they are angry and bitter that their parent cared more for the struggle than for them. They talk about the poverty and the pain their mothers and family were thrown into and how hard it was growing up the child of someone who wasn’t around.

And they certainly have very little sympathy for the struggle — in fact, in most cases there’s outright hostility towards it.

If we had a more collective way of raising kids, the impact of a parent who’s often out at meetings or who ends up serving some time would be less severe and maybe kids wouldn’t reject the movement because of how it hurt them. If we had a system in place to take care of people who can’t find work because they refuse to sell-out their principles, people wouldn’t constantly be moving to Toronto to find paid work they can justify doing. We should have a way to ensure that our sick or elderly will be taken care of when they can’t care of themselves — that we won’t forget them in the same way we don’t forget our comrades in jail.

If we had this kind of mutual aid in place, then maybe people would feel less afraid of giving all of their time, resources, and energy to something beyond their own personal lives. And we could have a real movement — one that people could have kids and grow old in — one in which people don’t have to default to the mainstream life of savings and mortgages and career paths… because what we would have instead would be so much better than all that.


"As advocates for animals, we should always send the clear, undiluted, uncompromised message that veganism is an ethical imperative. Beware the soft bigotry of low expectations. By telling people the whole truth of the message, we show that we believe that they are capable of changing their thinking and behavior, instead of assuming that some people will never be motivated enough to change or will always eat meat and so the idea of veganism is just too extreme for them. Change can be frightening for most people however, and therefore it’s natural for people to look for any excuse not to change their behavior when experiencing a moral conflict between what they believe and how they act. At this point it is our role to be offering them the support and guidance needed to follow their heart and live their life in accordance with their values. Animal rights advocates should never, in any way, offer people an excuse not to change or give them an easy way out of meeting their ethical responsibility to animals by promoting or even suggesting a perceived moral alternative to veganism. If people are presented with the entire non-watered-down message of veganism but decide on their own to eat animals or animal products from “humane” farms, then that is their choice, but as animal activists we should never do or say anything to point them in that direction or even imply the idea that this is morally acceptable. As animal advocates, it is our role and position to hold the highest moral ground on behalf of the animals. We should be open and honest about the integrity of our message, speak it loud and clear, show that we have no hidden agenda, and refuse to compromise on these principles. After all, as animal activists, if we don’t hold to the resolute position that humans do not have the right to strip animals of their lives and freedoms, who will?"

Voices for Animals of Western Pennsylvania (VFA) Voices For Animals