Why DxE Wednesday II: Matt Johnson
This the latest installment in a series of interviews with DxE activists conducted by Rachel Waite, who is part of the blog team and an organizer for DxE Grand Rapids (MI)
Q: What first inspired you to get involved with activism and join DxE?
After I became vegan, I was discouraged at the willful ignorance of most folks. Surfing around Facebook one day, I came across a DxE disruption clip. It was so moving to see a single, brave activist confidently speaking up in a crowded restaurant. In that moment, I experienced firsthand the power of direct action to inspire others to act. I did my research, and it all made sense to me.
Q: What is your favorite or most accomplished moment in activism?
Last Thanksgiving was an amazing experience. At the NFL game in Detroit, we anxiously worked out the details to maximize our chance of good exposure. When the time was right, we proceeded to the field entrance. I stayed back to record as the others rushed on the field. After a few tense moments, it was so gratifying to see the plan come together as the others bravely made it happen.
Q: You are known for doing many high-profile disruptions, often involving elected officials and political candidates. What advice would you give to someone interested in this kind of activism?
Believe in yourself! The physical execution really is generally quite simple- it's your own mind that can get in the way. Prepare as best you can, then try not to overthink things. Here's a link to a recent discussion on this topic with myself and Zach Groff, an outstanding activist and mentor to me.
Q: What keeps you motivated in your activism?
I am what some might call a hopeless pragmatist. I think in terms of what's given up vs. what's gained. Living in my (and most readers') particular place and time- given modern technology and the freedom of expression- presents an amazing opportunity to be heard widely. A few hours effort and a few hundred bucks (often much less) can translate to millions hearing the voice of the animals. Over the course of any of our lives, we could very well positively impact thousands, millions, or even billions of animals (which also helps humans in many ways). My moment-to-moment pleasure doesn't seem particularly pressing when put in perspective.
Q: What advice would you give to new activists?
Step right in and get involved right away. The more you sit back and hesitate, the harder it can be to get going. Ask questions, and seek out ways to help. There's always more that can be done.
Q: Why Animal Liberation?
We should all embrace our obligations to not mistreat- in fact, to help- those different or less fortunate than ourselves. But unfortunately, most of the world hasn't yet made this connection across species. We must respect the right to life and freedom for all with the capacity to seek it. And there's so much we can do- not only to stop using animals, but to proactively improve the quality of animals’ lives, both wild and domesticated. Animals are so oppressed and suffer on such a massive scale, yet are widely overlooked.
Animal liberation activism is pretty much the best possible use of my time, as best I can tell.