Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

passive activism, and other musings

I’ve been in a thinking mode lately, but I’ve not been able to come to any conclusions. It is funny, because the few times I’ve seen people describe my blog, they basically say that it is a mix of sanctuary tales and musing on the movement. I find this funny, because this is not deliberate on my part, and I don’t think it would have been my goal. That is, talking about the sanctuary residents is something I do because I can’t imagine not, but the musing…not so much.

Then again, I suppose I’m just trying to think my way through things.

Various conversations lately have me thinking about the potential impact of passive activism. Passive activism can take many forms, of course, but the conversations and my own recent musings have been sparked by my calendar. I did a calendar last year, and the printing was pretty screwy. Terry gave them to the volunteers and staff, and it was out of sight, out of mind (mostly) for me. Lesson learned with regards to Lulu printing, and I played it safe this year. Everything turned out pretty good. Some minor things I’ll think about tweaking for next year’s version, but compared to last year? No comparison!

But people did love last year’s calendar, bad printing and all. It came up last week, when I was there on my day off. Those of us who gathered afterwards were looking at this year’s calendar, and one woman started telling me about how she’d had last year’s on the door outside her office, and all the conversations it sparked.

I was thrilled to hear this – it had always been my hope, that pictures of these animals just hanging on the wall could potentially spark conversation. Thought. Change? I don’t have any real expectations that the calendar on its own would be all that is needed, except for a few certain kinds of people. People who were probably half a step away from making that change already.

Mary left a comment the other day about the reactions of those around her to the calendar:

The reactions of omnis (to the calendar) has been very interesting. There’s only been a handful so far, but they’re very, very uncomfortable once they think about the photos for a moment. Their mood goes from light to sort of sullen.

I think that’s progress.

So it is clear to me that the potential for being thought-provoking is there. What impact it will have on people, long-term, is not clear.

Gary often talks about his belief that it isn’t just one exposure that makes the difference, but repeated exposure. That almost no one hears just one really well crafted logical (or emotional or whatever) argument and makes an instant change. That looking back after they’ve made the change, they’ll see many steps that have lead them to that point, hovering with their foot ready to step over the threshold.

I imagine many others talk about this as well, I just know that Gary’s the one I have talked to about this. (Gary is a muser too.) It makes sense. Ask someone “how did you go vegan” and they’ll start telling their story…I’m guessing it usually starts in childhood. “I used to cry when our pet fish died. I was horrified to learn that animals had to be killed for us to have the food on our plate.” That kind of thing.

So based on that idea, the calendar (or some other form of passive activism) can actually play a big role. It is the exposure that we don’t have to put effort into, but which still “counts”. Doesn’t it? Maybe it only counts if it is backed up with information.

And the information will likely be asked for, by certain viewers. That makes a difference too, I think. When we are seeking information, we’re a lot more open to it, even when we’re reluctant. When someone is insisting that it is information we should listen to, we tend to shut down.

Or maybe that’s just me, flashing back to all those lectures I couldn’t stay awake for.

The problem with musing on a topic is that I also tend to ramble.

Mary posted today about this topic, sort of. That is to say, it tied in with a lot of the jumble that has been twirling in my brain lately, though she came at it from a very different (and much more organized) direction. She’s talking about the patterns, trying to find that thing, that whatever-it-is that had us acting on our beliefs and changing accordingly, instead of … not. Instead of being like the 99% of people around us. Yet we were them at one point, weren’t we? So what is that crucial difference?

If vegan education were the answer to duplicating our success as vegans, we’d have a lot more vegans. But some people, as we all know, listen intently to what we have to say, read our pamphlets, watch Gary Francione’s slideshows, and even watch some of Earthlings, and still aren’t moved enough/interested enough to change their lives.

Why is that?

If we can get to what made us receptive, then maybe there’s a way to reproduce that in others.

Any ideas?

This is the real question that has been in my brain, that has had me bitching to Mary about how cynical I am, and how I expect so little of others, that has made it all seem too pointless.

And this is why I can understand a good deal of what drives those who are too impatient, who feel too much urgency to sit around and just talk to people.

And that is why I’ll finish with a link to Stephanie’s post today, letting us know that Behind The Mask is now available through Netflix. That’s exactly the kind of movie/documentary I know I need to watch. If only I could get myself to watch videos.

Well, I said I’d finish with that, but instead I’ll finish with the transformation of Edward, a four part series:

the pause

the pause

the swish

the swish

the swirl

the swirl

the display

the display

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