From The Publisher
A great actor had a character, “Dalton,” who once gave great advice for deescalating and changing a situation: “If somebody gets in your face and calls you a c–k—ker, I want you to be nice.” He gave several other examples of affronts someone could receive and ended each with, no matter what, “…be nice.”
One thing we all share today is a frustration with how hard it is to take positive action and bring about change. For those in the world of animal advocacy, rescue, fostering, or welfare of any kind this is often exacerbated by responses on social media (anger breeding more self-righteous anger.)
I was first introduced to the motto #ForTheAnimals by my great friends and fellow advocates, Houston PetSet. We became involved about 4 years ago and I have learned something from them that I would urge any animal advocate to adopt. No matter what happens, be “For The Animals.” Let that motto govern your actions.
If someone gets more praise than you, remember you are doing this #ForTheAnimals. If someone is able to raise more money than you, remember you are doing this #ForTheAnimals. And, especially if someone puts you down for the work you are doing or how you do it, be #ForTheAnimals. I promise if we all do this you will win and more importantly for all of us, the animals will win.
I recently read of a court opinion I did not like and I wrote about it on social media. One of the judge’s supporters pointed out that the judge has done a lot of good things for the impoverished and marginalized and also stated a couple of things I did not agree with. Instead of calling the supporter names I got him to give me the judge’s contact info and I sent the judge an email. I was pleasant and I tried to govern all I wrote by remembering I am trying to move someone to be #ForTheAnimals. I must say, the judge’s supporter was reasonable and stated he appreciated my need to stay focused on one cause.
The judge has not responded but it’s only been about 5 days. Whether he agrees to meet or not and whether he responds or not, I am going to keep it calm and focused and #ForTheAnimals. If I do not believe at the end of the day he will be #ForTheAnimals then I will find a different judge to support during the next elections for that court seat. Calmly, relentlessly, #ForTheAnimals.
Thank you all at Texas Humane Legislation Network (THLN) and especially Laura Halloran and Shelby Bobosky for showing me how to be nice to get legislation enacted and laws changed. Thinking and being relentless without poking people in the eyes can be very effective.
The problem with displaying your anger and slinging vitriol on social media is it does not change minds and behaviors. The angry post or comment only provides a win by letting you “get that off your chest” (feel better) or in making you feel even more right.
So what? If it does not change outcomes #ForTheAnimals then why does it even matter that I am right or that I feel better? I don’t want to be right and I certainly don’t want to feel better if things are not changing #ForTheAnimals! I don’t want to feel better until I stop seeing dead and homeless and abused and neglected dogs and other animals in the corridor of cruelty and beyond. So, I will be nice so that I can maintain focus #ForTheAnimals. Only when I am focused can I be relentless in my cause.
The other problem with anger and vitriol is occasionally we become angry with a person when we do not have all the information. We see a “neglected” animal and we get angry at their owner because we see so much. Recently an ACO went to a home I had reported and found that the issue was one of mental health. There was nothing purposeful or intentionally neglectful on the part of the owners. A little calmness and being nice helped the dog and the family.
Recently, my friend, Samantha Sam sent me a photo of a dog with a necrotic leg*. I have to tell you that even 12 years in emergency departments did nothing to stem my revulsion at this poor animal’s condition. I thought, what is wrong with people that an animal can get in this condition or in the condition Gus was found in?
Now, I realize I must instead think, “What am I going to do to change things #ForTheAnimals? When I say “What is wrong with people?,” I am assigning responsibility to others and lessening my ownership. To impact a problem I must claim ownership of it. I am endeavoring to remember that all my frustration or despair does nothing but take my focus off of what I want to do: Change things #ForTheAnimals.
I can only have one focus if I am to bring about change. I am choosing to focus on being and doing #ForTheAnimals. I wish I could never lose that, but I know from experience that it is not easy. I am trying to condition myself to use my feelings to refocus my efforts. The moment I feel the anger, the pain, the sadness and certainly the moment I want to mete out justice or revenge, I tell myself to be… #ForTheAnimals.
I will stumble and fail and you are free to point it out to me. I want to govern my actions to think more like Dalton and “…be nice.”I believe this is the only way to be heard by those who can assist us in bringing change #ForTheAnimals. Screaming at an elected official on social media does not change things. Voting does. Campaigning for those you know who will change things #ForTheAnimals will change things.
In the rescue community there will be people I do not agree with but I will endeavor to assist them if I believe what they are doing is in some way #ForTheAnimals. I don’t even have to like someone to help them if they are #ForTheAnimals.
To those of you who have become my teachers, to those of you whose occupations put you on the front lines in this effort to change outcomes (ACO’s, LEO’s, directors, executive directors, veterinarians and vet techs, and many I cannot think of) I thank you. Your actions remind me to keep it #ForTheAnimals.
Do not think my being nice will let those who are making money from or finding bizarre pleasure in the distress of animals will keep you safe from me. Being nice will cause those who should listen to hear me. In being nice I will cause every eye to look at you. You will not be able to hide behind my vitriol or anger.
To those of you who work counter to positive outcomes #ForTheAnimals know this: I am going to continue to be nice to you. I will not raise my voice to you and I will not call you names. I will be calm in my pursuits to change things #ForTheAnimals, but know that I will be relentless.
You cannot upset me or instigate me and cause me to lash out and lose focus. I am relentless. I will not waste my energy on yelling, screaming or calling you names. I will write about you calmly and simply point out every bad action, every ambiguity and every lie. I will expose every pain you cause an animal but I will expose you without the use of self righteous anger. I will become your worst enemy by calmly pointing out everything you do without any negative energy. I will be your worst enemy because I am calmly, relentlessly, and vigilantly focused on one thing: being #FORTHEANIMALS.
P.S. If it is so overwhelming that i must lash out I will go into my bedroom and beat a pillow to death or cry my heart out. Then, I will take a breath, walk out, and continue to be relentless in my focus and continue to be nice no matter what. I am #ForTheAnimals.
* I am gathering real, current photos of Houston and Harris County animals to provide background to any mayoral or council candidate in Houston this year. If you tag me with a photo make sure it is yours. Give me the rough date it was taken, area and state that I may use it. Please only from this year. Thanks.