Today, I was offered an opportunity to be introduced to a retired chairman of one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the UK: to be recommended to their former colleagues for SIGNIFICANT funding for my rewilding work…
It would have been a personal introduction through a mutual acquaintance.
I know a lot of people who would have told me to go for that money. I was even asked if it actually didn’t make it a little better that some of the profits made from testing on animals went towards creating havens for wildlife?
The answer is that (in my opinion) it doesn’t make it better and I turned the opportunity down.
I turned it down because when I hit the road back in November 2018 in the Milly Van, I did so to raise money for a home for 8 disabled youngsters in Swaziland AND to make as big a difference as I could to ALL animals in the UK as I travelled to raise this money.
I believe that ALL life is precious. To me, that mouse/cat/dog/monkey/horse in a laboratory isn’t a ‘something’, he/she is a ‘someone’. It is not alright (my personal belief) that they suffer for humanity’s apparent gain. I can understand how previous generations have felt that when it comes to aiding a loved one (especially a child) you will sacrifice another species to find a cure for a frightening illness BUT we don’t have to make that choice anymore. Animal Free Research and Cruelty Free International have proven that and continue to do so: we have moved on from EVER even believing that we need to test on animals again.
So, I declined the opportunity to take money that had been made through suffering. I won’t dictate what another person should/shouldn’t do but I will at least do my best to stand by my own principles, as best as I can, with whatever courage I can find within myself.
This attitude has prevented me from approaching a lot of companies actually: a lot of the bigger companies (for whom £5000 or £10,000 is easily settled on for Sponsorship, especially with a significant ROI) either utilise animal products, animal testing, develop over vast amounts of land or are vague in their treatment of human labour abroad.
Perhaps to be so specific in my demands is naive? I don’t think so…
I have long been becoming more and more fixed on the idea that the words “For The Greater Good” are very dangerous indeed. In my many months of research for Pocket Protection - speaking to Environmental Scientists and other professionals - I have encountered this mindset continually, often amongst friends that I love or individuals who have helped me and whom I admire.
I have encountered the perceived need to kill and examine sea creatures to prove that they are indeed being affected by environmental changes, in order to try and deter governments from then approving of schemes that will do further harm. But 1000s of creatures all over the world are harmed for such reasons. I can’t claim knowledge of whether these methods are successful or not - perhaps they do indeed affect change further down the line - but whether this research does/does not determine decisions made against development/mining, one thing is 100% definite: those creatures died because we - as humans - decided that they were expendable and simply one of millions of others. To humanity, those creatures were designated a number. They were a tiny % that had to die in order to see if the overall species could be saved.
But to my mind, I believe that it’s this mindset (this belief) that has led us to the catastrophic damage that we have inflicted (and continue to inflict) on our planet.
Who are we to place a ‘number’ on a living being? Who are we to decide that they are expendable to our cause? When will we learn to exist WITHIN our eco system, instead of trying to dictate terms to it?
I don’t believe in the ‘Greater Good’.
All we ever have is this moment: nothing else is guaranteed. I believe that what we do in THIS moment is THE most important thing: that it even defines WHO we are.
I stumbled across this article online that really moved me. It said….
“We live in a destination fixated culture. That life is all about getting to some kind of promised land. So much so that we forget that the key is not so much the destination but how we journey, how we live. [...] We can be so fixated on the goal that we can lose our integrity and end up justifying all kinds of acts in order to reach our perceived goal. We say “Well the ends justify the means.” I am not sure that this is ever the case. Such thinking has led to all kinds of barbarity as people have been sacrificed to achieve a perceived goal. In modern times that has become known as “collateral damage.” Goal orientated philosophies lead to the failure to recognize the sacredness of all people, all souls and all life. All is sacred, every action and interaction. “
I think that we need - as a people - to start treating THIS moment, this NOW, as the most IMPORTANT moment of any given day. I think we should be as present as we can in each decision and ask ourselves, “Am I causing harm, doing this? Am I putting kindness out into the world, doing this? Am I helping someone NOW in this second?” And that last question is, I think, why I decided against even considering funding from a company that tested on animals.
Those research scientists (from whom I would be profiting) may actually be pretty kind hearted. They may be acting from great intentions, thinking of a child who is desperate for a cure or a parent who feels lost and powerless or of the many of us who encounter terrifying challenges. But in that moment, they are causing often severe, horrendous suffering to a ‘someone’ who doesn’t have a say in their own helplessness: who is 100% a victim. In that moment, they are causing harm and inflicting pain. And I believe that that is all that matters and that that is what flows out into the world as ripples: as energy.
I suppose that it’s like the philosophy, “Take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves…”.
Our ‘Greatest Good’ can be achieved by being kind IN THIS MOMENT because this is all that we have and our habits are the physical (scientifically proven) energy that we are repeatedly putting out into the world.
And we all die eventually, “no one gets out of this alive” so any suffering inflicted on another creature to extend our life span makes NO real difference in the end, it simply allows one life to extend longer as another life suffers and dies for it, but in 7.5 billion years - when we are predicted to be absorbed by the sun - all that will be true is that suffering was caused (harm was done) and in the end, it didn’t change anything. In the end, the suffering didn’t need to happen.
I can almost hear the reasonable objection (of those who don’t agree with me) in my mind, “But aren’t you prioritising the mouse/cat/dog over a human by refusing to test on them? You are saying that the human can die as long as the other animals are free/safe?” and I can understand this argument…
So in reply, I say this… “I suppose that I am not prioritising one life over another but instead refusing to allow the deliberate torture of one being OVER the survival of another. We all die: the mouse could be eaten, the cat/dog could fall ill. We none of us know when our time is up. And we all of us deserve comfort, love and whatever help can be afforded us when we are ill/facing our own mortality BUT whilst we ALL must die, we don’t all face the terrible fate of being tortured all of our lives and dying from the effects. It’s not about how/when we die but instead, it’s about how we live with the time that we have and whether we - all of us - get a fair chance or not.”
And so I try and live this in my daily life as consciously as possible: I carefully considered the ETHICS of every mile of my journey as I foresaw my travelling, I avoid all animal products/anything tested on animals in my personal/business life (if you're interested, HERE are my own personal views on animal welfare) and I go as far as I can to avoid the use of pharmaceutical drugs in my own health whilst promoting investment in Animal Free Research (instead of more widely publicised research) so that no more animals suffer needlessly.
I don't know if I will be brave enough to turn down drugs that could prolong my life in the future (if I fall ill) in order to stand by my principles. It's very probable that I won't be, so in the meantime I can at least do what I have the conviction to do now and that's find funding elsewhere.
And I will try to continue to be as conscious in my business dealings and daily actions as possible, since I ONLY have this moment and this one chance to choose what I put out into the world: the intent to be IMMEDIATELY kind or IMMEDIATELY harmful.
I’m by no means perfect (there’s a lot about me that I’m sure is highly irritating!) and I know that every step I take, I’m crushing some poor tiny bugs that are too minute for me to see BUT in the actions that my very presence doesn’t force me to commit accidental manslaughter with, I try to do my best.
I guess that that’s all that we can ever ask of ourselves, really.