We will no longer hide
by Wayne Hsiung
I have a confession. I made it a rule over 10 years ago to stop watching animal cruelty videos. They scare me. They haunt me. And they bring me crashing down in despair.
From an early age, I was obsessed with animals. I would make friends with squirrels and birds in the forest. I religiously read ZooBooks and everything else I could get my hands on about animals. And to this day, the best and happiest day of my life was the day when my parents finally allowed me and my sister to adopt a dog -- my first real friend of any species -- into our home.
So when I see videos of animals being hurt, it's as if someone is hurting my dearest friends. Not just hurting them. Degrading them. Abusing them. Brutalizing them. Torturing them. And then even eating them. The scenes are so bad that it's hard to believe they are even happening. And for those of us who love, and have been loved by, animals..... when we see these scenes it's as if the entire world has turned into a nightmare.
I was speaking to my friend Lisa recently as to what motivates us to activism. (DxE will be meeting about this next week.) And above all, for me, it is this deep feeling that something has gone deeply wrong with our society. We have seen what is happening to our friends. And it fills us with a sense of injustice that overwhelms every other feeling in our body. We see these images, these videos, and we hear their terrifying cries. "I'm filled with this sense that I've never seen anything so wrong in my life," Lisa told me. And that deep wrongfulness burns us to our very bone.
The problem, of course, is that a fire can only burn for so long. And I stopped watching animal cruelty videos because I could see my hope fading, my cynicism growing, and my hatred for the world growing day by day. (Perhaps screening myself from such videos is part of the reason why I've stuck around for 15 years.) So it was only begrudgingly that I have begun to watch these videos again in order to make the DxE campaign videos that we hope will continue to mobilize people all over the world to action for animals.
But there is something different this time around. I don't drown in despair when I watch, despite the fact that I have now seen more such videos in three months (heck, three days) than I had watched in the ten years prior. And the reason is... you. My despair over the nightmarish suffering of our kindred sensitive beings is met with a just as powerful collective resolve: that we will no longer hide how we feel, run to the bathroom with our tears, or make small talk in the face of catastrophic atrocities.
I see someone like my friend Linda, a 70 year old activist in Sacramento who looks half her age, speaking confidently and strongly on behalf of our brutalized friends ("This sweet mommy pig does not want to be on your dinner plate. She deserves to live!") in a place of opulence and violence, and I begin to see a path out of this nightmarish world. The nightmare still rages, to be sure, but by recognizing, and connecting with, the legions of activists ready to confront that nightmare with strong words and action, we need not fall victim to despair. We can look at the nightmare straight in the eye and say to ourselves, and to the world, "Your last days are near. We will no longer hide. And my friends will soon be safe and happy and free."