Karen Davis, the founder and president of United Poultry Concerns, recently penned a long whine about how easily animal rights activists become burned out. There are some worthwhile lessons to be learned here.
According to Davis, “It’s easy for an animal activist to become consumed by rage and despair, to grow exhausted and burn out confronted with the horror, each and every day, of our species’ relentless assault on other species.”
Especially when you’re not getting anywhere. Davis quotes Norman Phelps of The Fund for Animals as telling her that he started campaigning against hunting in the mid-1980s thinking it would be outlawed within the decade, and here he still is fighting to get it banned. Closer to home for Davis, she notes that UPC and others managed to stop a popular pigeon shoot, but simultaneously the number of chickens killed in the United States has increased by 10 million a day since her involvement with the animal rights movement began.
Davis herself seems doubtful that the animal rights movement will achieve any real long-term success, writing, “My attitude is not ‘If I didn’t think we’d win, I’d quit,’ to which I would say, ‘Then quit.'”
Davis identifies three reasons that cause animal rights activists to give up the fight,
…the endless omnipresence of animal suffering caused by humans, public resistance to our message, and letdown by other activists. We start out full of energy, we picture victory and a crowd of protesters at every demonstration, we envision reason and compassion taking charge of people’s lives, and then reality erodes our dream.
These are all situations, of course that those of us opposed to the animal rights movement should do our best to encourage.
How does one survive dealing day after day with a cruel industry?. Karen Davis, United Poultry Concerns, Summer 2001.