I am often struck by the degree of arrogance I see in people around me. Of course, I am not immune to these moments of ego trips about myself but I recognize that this should not rule my life. Arrogance is a form of selfishness, it boasts itself as the answer to the emptiness found in some people. It disguises itself as charitable and compassionate as well.
The cause of helping either other animals or human animals is a noble cause but it is not meant to be taken on by boosting one’s ego. Nobility of heart is by essence humility and kindness, not arrogance and ego. I see too much of the latter unfortunately in both human and non-human rights movement.
I am reminded of this great lines by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:
« If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. And every now and then I wonder what I want them to say. Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize—that isn’t important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards—that’s not important. Tell them not to mention where I went to school.
I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others. I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody. I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question.
I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. And I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.
Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.
I won’t have any money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. And that’s all I want to say. If I can help somebody as I pass along, If I can cheer somebody with a word or song. If I can show somebody he’s traveling wrong, Then my living will not be in vain. If I can do my duty as a Christian ought, If I can bring salvation to a world once wrought, If I can spread the message as the master taught, Then my living will not be in vain. »
These words, although spoken in regards to his work on behalf of humans and with a deep religious faith, are applicable in the context of our work on behalf of other animals, whether we are religious, spiritual, agnostic or atheist. They speak of humility and courage. They speak of our own calling to make the world a better place.
There is too much ego in the Vegan/Animal Rights movement. In fact, there is nothing about wanting to save other animals which warrants an ego trip. It is a normal and necessary work we have to do, not a reason to feel like we are special or superior to others. When egos stand in the way, no real progress ever happens. But when it is replaced by a deep desire to put egos aside and do the work we are called for, real progress happens which awakens many sleeping minds around us.
Already, we can see it with a few visionaries like Will Tuttle, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau and others, who have the courage of taking a non-judgmental position of compassion and loving kindness towards everyone, including the ones most against us. Their message reaches and transforms a lot of people.
We don’t change minds by brutalizing the minds of others and by being arrogant and self-righteous. We change minds when we own our truth with peace and compassion to all. Then more people want to embrace what we have.
If more of us understood that message, we would deeply transform our planet.
May all hear their calling with humility and truth.
Photography by Veronique Perrot
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