Why DxE Wednesday XVIII: Abhijit Muduganti
Q: What inspired you to first get involved with activism and join DxE?
My dog, Snowy. I became an activist for non-human animals after I discovered that, when it comes to fundamental emotions, there is not really a difference between Snowy and other animals. I had always known that non-human animals have feelings but had never felt any kind of connection with them before Snowy came into my life. All the animals I've rescued and interacted with subsequent to this realization helped me in my journey as an activist. I owe my activism for non-human animals entirely to them.
I've been following DxE's activism from the onset of their public disruptions. I loved they way they brought the radicalness that always existed in the animal rights movement to the mainstream, and I loved the fact they recognized the urgency of the issue. Some activist friends and I wanted to start a DxE chapter in India when I was living there, but we never really got around to it. However, after moving to the US a couple of years ago, I got involved with the existing Orange County chapter in no time.
Q: You recently made a cross-country move. How has this impacted your activism?
I think it has had an overall positive impact. Before moving from Orange County to Philadelphia, I had had only two concerns - how the OC chapter was going to cope with the change, since I was the only organizer there, and how the move would affect my activism. It turns out that I had nothing to worry about. I've been keeping track of the things happening in OC, and I think Jenn Thompson, who took over as organizer from me, is doing a great job. The DxE Philly community has been very welcoming and supportive. We are very well-organized and are a very ambitious bunch. I really, really like the direction the chapter is heading in and think we'll make tremendous progress in the next few years.
Q: What is your favorite or most accomplished moment in activism or other DxE activity?
My favorite moment would have to be during our Whole Foods protest in LA in January when I first realized how powerful the DxE community is. I think there were around fifty of us, and we were inside the store for a good half an hour. That also happened to be the first time I did a speakout at a DxE event. I was left with this newfound hope. It was absolutely incredible.
Q: How do you stay motivated as an activist?
I always end up having good friends, both nonhuman and human, wherever I go. I love visiting and volunteering for animal sanctuaries. The positive stories of the survivor residents of sanctuaries should be motivation enough for all animal rights activists to stay committed to the cause, in my opinion. It also helps a lot to find a strong community of activists who keep you motivated, which I've had no problem doing so far. I know that there are people who've always got my back, and that makes being an activist a lot easier and far more effective.
Q: What advice would you have for new activists?
My most important advice would be to never forget that you're nothing more than an ally to nonhuman animals in this struggle for their freedom. Your place in the movement begins and ends at being an ally, and it is your duty as an animal rights activist to be as good an ally as you can possibly be. It is your duty not to be "the voice of the voiceless," but to magnify the voices of the victims so much that they cannot be ignored any longer. There will be times, especially when you're part of networks like DxE which strive to build a positive environment for their activists, that you will feel that this movement is about you. Once you realize that it isn't, you will be able to take effective action for animals. Being a good activist might be difficult, but being an effective ally is tougher.
I've talked about the importance of a supportive community already, but I can't stress its significance enough. It gives you hope, it gives you inspiration, and it will help you become a better activist than you could ever be as a lonely vegan. Also, always treasure those magical moments you have with nonhuman animals. They'll help remind you of who you are fighting for and tell you how much harder you need to fight.
Q: Why Animal Liberation?
I love the word 'liberation.' It helps us look beyond the abstract concept of rights. Liberation describes absolute freedom which isn't restricted by definitions doled out by philosophers, governments, societies or politicians. A movement aimed at achieving total liberation is the most rational and radical response to unjust authoritarian oppression. Why animal liberation? Because animals deserve every bit of it. Because asking for anything less is betrayal.