Once a person knows about many of the problems facing the world-- animal suffering on factory farms, environmental degradation, the epidemic of preventable disease in the Western world, starvation and malnourishment in many other parts of the world, and so much more-- that person would then be ethically required to do what they can to stop supporting those things. For example, once you find out about the exploitation of animals for "food", you really cannot even attempt to justify continuing to eat animal products. Similarly, once you learn about environmental degradation due to human activities, you should do what you can to reduce your environmental footprint. Going vegan, being eco-friendly, buying fair trade, using sustainable transportation, and eating healthily are great things to do, but are those things-- on their own-- not enough?
Once a person is aware of the problems in the world, does that person then have a moral imperative to actively work to help improve the state of the world?
That's what this blog post is about today :) . My answer to the bolded question above is, quite simply, "YES!"
People who are privileged enough to have access to proper education, food, water, etc. have a moral responsibility to help others (including animals) and/or the world, along with also avoiding doing harm. If you use up resources on the planet, it is only fair to give something back, after all!
Think about it: if a person isn't doing good in their spare time, then what are they doing instead? Entertaining himself/herself? It is simply unethical to "live for pleasure" when there are animals out there in terrible conditions, being exploited, killed, and tortured, not to mention the Earth being mutilated by humans, and people in all sorts of terrible conditions. When you learn about these things, it is a moral imperative to take action-- after all, we have a degree of responsibility towards others. It's just like if you saw a kid being beat up on the playground-- would you be the passive bystander, who watches for a while and then turns away? Or would you try to get involved by getting help from the police and/or stopping the bullies yourself? If you-- the bystander-- aren't at risk, then it would be cruel-hearted to ignore the desperate pleas of the kid for help.
Animals do not speak human language. They cannot hand out leaflets or go online and beg for us to take up their cause. But their suffering at human hands is horrendous. Therefore, it is so important for animal rights people like me (and hopefully you, whoever you are reading this right now) to advocate for them.
Of course, there are some circumstances in which a person cannot do anything-- for example, if they are in a position where all they can do is try to survive, such as if they're terribly poor or sick. However, everyone else can do something to help the world, even if it's simply starting a petition, leafleting, raising money for a good cause, buying animal rights books and/or vegan cookbooks to donate to your local library, volunteering, creating art to raise awareness, writing a book, starting a group or a club, or writing an article for your school newspaper. Or starting an animal rights blog, perhaps! ;)
You don't even have to be a self-declared "activist" to make a difference in the world. Take whatever you love to do-- whether that's triathlon, composing music, or something else-- and use that to make the world a better place. For example, if you're a triathlete, you can wear a "Vegan" slogan on your sports clothing, so that everyone who watches you compete will become aware that vegans can, indeed, be great athletes! If you compose music, you could write a song about (or dedicated to) the animals who need our help, then play that song at an event or post it online (or even turn it into a music video to put on Youtube!). That way, you're still doing what you love, but you're using it to create very positive change.
The most important thing to do is to do something! And regularly, too-- like I said above, we all have a moral responsibility towards others. You might not be able to do a lot-- after all, you probably have other things going on in your life. (I know I do!) However, doing as much as you reasonably can to make a difference-- whether you can work extensively every day or only do something once a week-- all helps, and remember, the animals and the world do really need our help.
Have a nice (action-filled) week!