Andrew, a fellow vegan, told me that when I was a new vegan, I seemed a lot more joyful. My responses were full of compassion and understanding, always refering to how others' disconnection was not so different from my own in the not-so-distant past. But lately, I have been feeling a lot of anger, maybe even hopelessness. Why don't people get it? Why don't they care? What is wrong with them? I fantasized about how when they shove the next piece of meat into their face, they will become aware of the pain of the animal they just ate, the pain that THEY caused. I felt constantly disappointed, sad, and angry at people whom I felt should know better. I am also disappointed at myself for becoming so judgmental.
My friend Marie lent me a copy of The Lucky Ones by Jenny Brown. It was the story of how the author came to put up the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. The pages were filled with much information vegans already know and a story of awakening which is very similar to my own. The familiarity was comforting, because it reminded me that I am not the only one fighting this fight. The book also told stories of individual rescue animals, of which I have met none in real life.
Even when I travel to the countryside of the Philippines and get to meet animals who truly were free range, even as I play with them and rub their bellies, I know they exist in the world with a death sentence hanging over their heads. They were born only for the sole purpose of being exploited, and the sad day of their slaughter will come. They will feel betrayed by those whom they might have considered their caretakers, even family, when they are plump enough for their "meat". They will struggle through the slaughter as all sentient beings unwilling to die would. And the only thing I could do was bid them goodbye and wish for them to have a happy life before that happens.
But the animals at the sanctuary are truly lucky. Many of them were left to die, but they were lucky enough to have ended up at a place where they can bask in the sun, walk, run, hop, play, form friendships, bicker with other animals if they're in the mood (or not in the mood), and basically just be themselves. I cried tears of joy reading about who they are, what their individual quirks are, and I cried tears of sadness reading about their medical conditions, as animals raised to be exploited are genetically mutated so many of them become too heavy for their legs to support. I was moved by the visitors of the sanctuary who got to know the animals and eventually became vegan.
The pages filled me with hope. It reminded me that there are heroes amongst us, like Jenny Brown, who use their lives to alleviate the suffering of others. Organizations like the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary need donors to finance the expenses, yes, but it is us vegan advocates who need them more. When patience starts to run low and feelings of hopelessness high, we can look to them and see the difference they are making in the individual lives of rescued animals. When we feel the need to lash out in anger for the injustice of the world, we can choose instead to help our common cause. We can choose inspiration over desperation, hope over disappoinment, love over anger when we keep the stories of the lucky ones and the brave ones and the kind ones close to our hearts.