Why DxE Wednesday XVII: Eli Pearson
This is the latest installment in a series of interviews with DxE activists by Rachel Waite, who is part of the blog team and an organizer for DxE Grand Rapids (MI)
Q: What inspired you to first get involved with activism and join DxE?
I think it's important to disrupt the status quo. Before I went vegan, I never gave a thought to why I was eating animals, let alone whether the animals I was eating were worthy of moral consideration. I think most people don't question why things are the way they are, and animal rights activists -DxE in particular- are there to remind people that their choices have far-reaching consequences that affect the lives of others and that they aren't going to be able to ignore it for much longer. This movement will continue to grow, and people will be forced to choose a side. That's what I love about DxE; it forces those who are confronted by its message to choose a side.
Q: What is your favorite or most accomplished moment in activism or other DxE activity?
My biggest personal accomplishment is that I've learned to exercise tremendous restraint. I've had people standing 2 inches from my face, hissing insults in my ear while I was in the middle of speaking, and I just kept going. I didn't react, I didn't stop what I was doing. Learning how to stay calm in tense situations like that and not be thrown off or just give up has been a huge area of personal growth for me. I keep my sights on the bigger picture: it's not about me and my ego, it's about the animals and their right to live their lives according to their own wants and needs.
Q: Your chapter (DxE Greater Puget Sound) has a lot of participation from children and families. How does having children present impact your protests and the message you deliver?
Sometimes people react negatively to the fact that we have kids present because they assume that we are forcing them to protest, which couldn't be further from the truth. All of the kids absolutely love to protest - they often motivate us to schedule an action. As a parent, I think it's important to teach your kids to stand up for what they believe in. I think my kids are a lot more likely to stay vegan for life because they connect animal rights to larger issues of social justice, and they believe strongly in animal liberation. I also think that having kids at protests deeply affects the kids who are watching. I think seeing their peers makes more of an impact on them than seeing adults.
Q: How do you stay motivated as an activist?
I stay motivated because I keep the animals in the forefront of my mind. I think about all of their suffering, and I know that as long as I'm still breathing, I cannot sit idly by without speaking up.
Q: What advice would you give to new activists?
The only advice I have for new activists is not to get discouraged by the people who yell "bacon" or otherwise heckle us during protests, and, no matter what, to not engage with those people.
Q: Why animal liberation?
Because anything less is unjust. Every animal, human and nonhuman, has the right to be safe, happy, and free.