Animal Rights Activist Profile: Gene Maurillo
What inspired you to first get involved with DxE?
I saw a film called Food Inc. and the bit of footage about animal slaughter in that movie was something I couldn’t quite shake. I started to feel an increase in guilt around contributing to the horrible treatment of these animals. However, the fear of not having a “proper diet” stopped me from becoming vegan as I thought I would get sick if I made the switch (social media was not full of information like it is today). Fortunately, I had no other particular attachment to animal products. Then around 4 years ago, after meeting a vegan online who eventually became one of my best friends in real life, I made the switch in my diet overnight. It was only a month later, on Facebook, that I stumbled upon a DxE video of a Whole Foods action. While watching, my hair nearly stood on end as if a message from some vibratory being was speaking to me (I know I exaggerate but it was quite a profound experience). Then only another month later I found myself in the same Whole Foods as seen in the video that got me interested, alongside all these DxE people I had never met. My adrenalin and anticipation as we walked towards the store to begin the action was running off the charts. Afterwards, there was no turning back. I knew animal liberation was going to play a significant role in my life for a long time.
What is your favorite or most accomplished moment in activism or other DxE activity?
Among a few nominees, I think organizing my first action in January 2017 (an Earthlings demo) in downtown San Francisco for around 42 activists, propelled me to a whole new level. Since then, I’ve organized more demos as part of an Earthlings neighborhood-by-neighborhood campaign in a city that abounds with counterculture history. To me, animal liberation fits right into the mix.
Are you part of any working group or unique activism in your chapter and how does this influence your activism?
I formed and maintain the DxE San Francisco Working Group. There were many of us in the city that could not get over to Berkeley as often as we wanted given sometimes difficult transportation and timing/work issues, etc. Our group has a wide palette to create lots of ideas and manifestations from those ideas, and it can be very exciting. I can’t wait for my retirement at the end of 2017 so I can really pull out the stops and recruit more and more activists in this city. I also have a vision for further south of San Francisco as well and have started working with activists in San Jose too, in whom I have every confidence, in terms of taking the animal rights ball and running with it down there. One other thing I do on a small scale (until the new year when it will be more extensive) is find activists. And while finding them is prime, it’s especially gratifying to see them grow, to see their excitement and charged commitment to the cause and to see them develop their capacities – right up to being leaders. I love encouraging and supporting. Seeing someone attend their first action or do their first speak-out are among the most satisfying things about this work.
How do you stay motivated as an activist?
I use various methods - all over the map. For one, I have a built-in work-labor ethic that my parents taught me coupled with the ensuing satisfaction from what manifested from those efforts. There’s also meditation which is important to me as a daily practice to center, balance and remind myself that I am ok and there are more opportunities to come. There’s observing other activists and going to DxE events/actions that inspire me. There is on occasion, watching graphic slaughter videos to re-tune to the real-life pain our non-human animal friends go through or at least as best as we can re-tune via videos. Also, I find slaughterhouse vigils very powerful having attended two at this point. Plus, the Animal Rights Center in Berkeley is always offering new learning opportunities via presentations and classes on any number of things. Lest I forget, there’s the annual Forum among the many great events DxE offers. This year’s Forum was almost beyond description in its positive intensity and motivational aspects. Also, going to the gym has always been a good tension release method and feeling/looking fit is self-inspiring. And last, I love singing. Finding a good song for my voice and recording it (whether it’s for animal rights or not) provides a real charge. It’s amazing what a little artistic creativity can do to enliven the soul, renew the spirit and calm the waters.
What advice would you give to new activists?
Never stop. Sometimes we can use an excuse or we let the ego state false cases or we don’t time manage well and have too many non-activist commitments, personal issues and more, all of which totally suck the life out of the work we really want to do for the animals. From all this we create stories of lack and limitation. But those minefields of voices and stories are not true. Certainly sickness, tragedies, financial duress and overwhelm can occur and we absolutely must engage them but minus these dire happenings, we can’t cave to false thoughts or made-up dramas. I mentioned above, some things I do to keep going but we’re all different and can think of many more approaches as well.
I also ask everyone to learn from others, reach out to others as a friend and a supporter, take the time to socialize with other activists, and look for anything that you can do to help in any action or project. Try to step out of your comfort zone even slightly. You’ll feel great about yourself when you do and things will only get better with this new-found empowerment. I’ve seen the shyest new activists shine, each in their own way. Bring your known strengths or find what your strengths are as you go. We all evolve as long as we don’t stop trying and actually doing. Besides, the animals are begging us to help. We must do everything we can to not step away.
Why animal liberation?
Because human and non-human animals deserve the very best in this life. The thoughtless pain given to and the slaughter of non-human animals is a horrible crisis. And to me, the offshoots of this in terms of what it does to humans, the environment and more, is a no-brainer, hands-down, largest issue of our time. It’s up to us to dig deep and stay with this issue. We can individually and collectively make a major difference. All you have to do is to keep learning, observing, participating, and be 100% committed to ending all this unnecessary pain and misery. I’m almost lost for words to say how important animal liberation is. And really, why are we here on the planet in these bodies? To scarf up resources and kill? To complain? To live a life of resignation? To live in the false ego? If we hold any of these beliefs, that seems like a pretty pointless existence to me. Let’s encourage people to become vegan and further, to become animal liberationists. We need many, many more activists.
In addition, let’s source who we really are (love, peace, compassion, bliss) and use these tools to make all of this happen in a way that will sustain itself. We can’t fight with pre-vegans and we can’t fight amongst ourselves. Elevating our consciousness is prime – yes, I said prime – in making all this happen and happen so it endures. Actions alone won’t do it. Elevating consciousness alone won’t do it. We need both and must aspire to do and be with both.
Last, I say in full confidence, that we will attain the peace I speak of along with the immense number of humans we require to do it. We will free the animals forever and thereby essentially save the planet. Some say it will take 40 years but I’m going for a far shorter amount of time. At 67, I’m going to say this will occur in MY lifetime. So, let’s take this journey together and just get it done! Thanks for reading. Namaste (which is a cool word that means “I salute the light within you”).
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