Today, dozens of HSUS staff remain in California helping with disaster response there. Yet, even in the midst of a cataclysmic disaster that requires intense focus, we must press ahead with our other work—often, on a hundred fronts.
We run a complex operation, with experts and activities in so many different subjects and operating in a wide range of geographic areas. We fight against—and see firsthand—the worst abuses facing animals today. We have good days and not so good days. But more and more, we are making gains and tangible progress, yet there is still too much intransigence and knee-jerk opposition to the reasonable reforms we seek. We are impatient for change, but recognize that the sort of lasting change we want does not come easily.
Today, I wanted to take a moment to respond to a question from reader Michele—a question I hear all the time, and a question that I expect you also often ask yourself.
Q. As I become increasingly aware of all the animal abuse that goes on day in day out, I have a difficult time managing my emotions. I go from feeling deeply saddened to extremely angry and then to feeling helpless. How do you keep a positive attitude going when the suffering seems endless?
A. Yes, Michele, this is a very important issue for the health of our movement. Many of our supporters become depressed or paralyzed by the circumstances of animals. It’s a combination of the pain that we feel and a sense that we can do little or nothing to turn the situation around.
As individuals, we must be on the lookout for this. When people leave our movement, or do not function well, it diminishes our strength as a cause. We must not only recruit people to strengthen our movement, but hold on to them once we have them.
I have been deeply involved in animal protection work for 20 years, and I have seen absolutely miserable things. In fact, I see them or learn of them almost every day in my post as CEO of the world’s largest animal protection group. If I internalized all of the suffering, I’d be eaten up by now. I take my anger and turn it into action. And I also try to focus some of my emotional energy on our progress. I take heart from the gains we are making and that serves as my fuel. I urge you to do the same.
Take stock that in the last two years, we have passed more than 150 new state laws to protect animals. We have made major gains against factory farming for the first time in our movement’s history. And never before has the public been so aware of the plight of animals.
Social change of the magnitude we are seeking will not happen overnight. But change does happen in increments. And I assure you, it’s happening now. Celebrate the change, and turn your anger and pain into action and resolve.