Behind the scenes of the fight for the protection of animals and workers and the preservation of the environment - my experiences as a Tyson slaughterhouse hanger/killer turned activist. Exposing the evils of factory farming, by Virgil Butler. If you have arrived here looking for the Tyson stories, view the early archives. Some of them are now featured on the sidebar for easy searching.
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
UPC Forum - What a BLAST!!!!
Well, I'm back. Wow! What a weekend! Karen did an excellent job organizing the event and had a great selection of speakers on a range of topics. We had such a great time and met so many truly wonderful people, so many caring, selfless, dedicated people there that are so concerned about the plight of animals. How refreshing it was to be in the presence of these activists and be around other people that feel the same way that I do and talk with them face to face.
I enjoy meeting and discussing these issues with the many people I correspond with online each and every day, but it's just not quite the same thing as being there and talking with someone like that. As you can imagine, there just aren't too many folks around these parts who do think this way. So, it was an extremely enjoyable experience for me to be able to do that. I can't wait to do it again.
My talk seemed to go really well. Yeah, I was a bit nervous at first, but after a couple of minutes of being up there and talking to this great group of people, I just relaxed and started talking about my experiences and what I know and it all just seemed to roll right on out there. I ended up enjoying it quite a bit, actually. I was able to get across some new information and help others understand more of what it is like to be working in one of those hellholes. If you have been reading this site from the beginning, then you know what I mean about how hard it is for some to really "get it."
I learned quite a bit myself, too. Listening to everyone speak and having the serious discussions with everyone has been very motivating as well. I think you will be seeing some really exciting progress in the near future from this movement. There were a lot of great ideas exchanged and points discussed that should really get more of this information out to the public.
Paul Shapiro from COK had some excellent footage and some great commercials that his group has put together and gotten in front of the public that are really making a difference. The footage that Sarahjane from GourmetCruelty.com got from the foie gras industry was excellent as well. She is getting that out in front of people, although she is paying the price for doing so. You just gotta respect people like her that are willing to put it all on the line to help the animals. I know I do.
I could go down the list and tell you wonderful things about each and every one of those people I talked to, but this post would end up more like a book by the time I got through. If you are into animal rights, then you already know who these people are for the most part, anyway. I don't have to make their names for them. Their efforts speak for themselves.
I have to tell you though, that, as wonderful as all these people are, I have to say that one of the things I got the best feeling from was meeting this great kid that was there. He was one of the most polite boys that I have ever met. He obviously has a really great mother. And, since I met her, I can say that I can tell that she really is a caring person. This kid gave me a feeling of hope for the next generation coming after us. The people like me, Paul Shapiro, Karen Davis, Bruce Friedrich, Jim Mason, Dr. Michael Gregor, etc. are building something that they will inherit and hopefully carry on in to the future so that one day our society does view these times in a different light.
I recently read an article that gave a prediction of a future where we look back at the days of killing and eating non-human animals as so horrific and barbaric that we are as shocked and disgusted about it as we are about slavery, abuse, and exploitation of our fellow humans. Wouldn't that be a wonderful world? A peaceful world where we aren't such a violent society?
That kid brought that hope out in me like no one else there. I could tell that he was going to grow up and be a wonderful man. One not afraid to care. One that doesn't think that there is anything at all wrong with respecting their fellow creatures and not harming them. One that didn't call his sons "sissies" for not being "tough enough" to kill an animal, like so many boys in my generation and previous ones have had done to them. A man that understands that it takes far more strength and courage to care than it does to bury those feelings and pretend not to care in order to "be a man."
I know that I have learned that myself. I used to think that people that couldn't handle the killing of animals to be weak, like most of the other men I grew up with and worked with. Our society does that to kids, and it's sad. It's so very wrong. Using shame to force our kids into committing violent acts and going against the compassionate nature that exists in all of us somewhere. Why do we feel that we have to do that?
We don't have to kill and eat animals to survive anymore like we did way back when. We have the choices today that didn't exist before. So many people are just making the wrong ones. And I don't really think it's because they don't care or they aren't good people. They are just uninformed people. There has become such a disconnect between the nicely-presented shrink-wrapped meat you buy in the store and the processes that actually get it there that most people not only don't know about it, but don't even think about it.
That's where people like me and you come in. We have got to get more of this information out there to the public so that they can see for themselves if this is something they can accept and support. I have yet to meet a person who wasn't horrified by pictures and footage of the factory farming industry. We just have to get those images out there more. We can let the animals speak for themselves. The information is out there. My stories are here and there, the pictures and videos that I and others have gotten are all over the net and in the media. It's happening more and more often all the time. People are waking up to the fact that this industry is the most horrible thing we as a society are allowing to continue.
It is killing our planet, polluting the land, air and water for every species on Earth, including ourselves. It causes so much pain and misery, so much exploitation of human and non-human animals. It is sucking up vast resources that can be better used in better ways. We have to change the way we are doing things as a society or we are going to suffer the consequences. Our children will suffer the consequences of our behavior.
I'll be talking more later on some other things that happened this past weekend and what our plans are that Laura and I intend to do. I do believe you will see a quite a bit more out of us and the movement as a whole. There are a lot of people coming forward with experience and knowledge that didn't exist before. Those firsthand accounts and stories that are so important and powerful for getting the message out there. I'm glad to be a part of that.
I'll also be speaking quite a bit more in the future. I had quite a few invitations from people there this weekend. I've got the Walk for Farm Animals in Nashville, TN on October 2nd that I will be participating in and speaking at. I have gotten a lot of advice and direction on how to go about writing the book I have been talking about. If you or your group would like me to come to an event and speak, just let me know. I would be glad to see what we can work out about that.
I will keep trying to get the pictures posted today. I am having a bit of trouble with that at the moment. The site doesn't want to load right, and I'm on another borrowed computer. Mine can't seem to find the modem for some damn reason. Anyway, if I don't get back to you for a few days that's why. I may have to take it in yet again. How annoying. And I'm already so far behind. Grrrr!!!!!
With all that said now, I'm going to just go back outside now and take a few more breaths of this clean air here. I missed my woods. It was a lot of fun, but it is good to be back here. I love this place. It feels good to be home.
Well, as I said in my last post, there has been a lot of things going on around here. We were gone from here for over two months on a job taking care of animals for some fellow rescuers that we know. They are back now, so we have returned to our woods and little trailer. But, it is starting to really look like we will finally be able to get finished building our cabin before winter. We are very excited about that!
And, it also looks like we will be in a bit better financial position in a couple of months, as well. We are certainly very excited about that! We won't be rich, by any stretch of the imagination (not even what most people would call "comfortable"), but it is beginning to look like we will be able to get enough money every month to live on. No more worrying about how we are going to eat and pay bills. No more worrying about how we will buy dog food. No more worrying about whether or not we can keep this site and our activist work going. Laura will be able to get the medical help that she needs. But, the very best thing of all is that it looks like we will finally be able to devote more time to our activist work. So, we just have to hang on for a little longer now, and we should be okay. I deeply appreciate all of you who have helped us financially during all these long months of struggling. I couldn't have done it without you. Many more people have learned about the factory farming industry due to our combined efforts. So, than you once again. You are all special, caring people.
I have been going over my speech and getting ready for the forum at UPC this weekend. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone, but I have to admit that I am just a little bit nervous about getting up and speaking in front of all those people. I figure that once I get started, though, that I will probably do fine.
I have also been working a little bit on the book I have been wanting to get written . I hope to get that finished some time this winter after we are holed up inside our cabin and I'm not having to work so hard just surviving and keeping everything going. I have decided to go with the factual version, with maybe the other story coming out at another time (if the first does well). Thanks to everyone that weighed in with their opinions on this. This seems to be what you wanted, so that's what I will do. I'll keep you up-to-date on my progress.
I have entered another circle of people at the Care2 site and set up another group there just like the one at Yahoo that I have had going for a while now. It gains new members all the time. I have met quite a few new people over there and made new friends. Quite a few of them were new to the information I have provided, so we have a larger number of readers here at the site. And they are spreading the word to others, so progress is being made there, too.
So, all in all, things are looking pretty good. I knew everything would eventually work out if I just continued to hang in there, work hard, keep a positive outlook, and not lose hope. It has been a real struggle, but then the best things in life do require a bit of sacrifice, do they not? Thanks to everyone who has been a part of all of this for everything you have done. It's not easy going up against the big boys, but we are indeed making progress in getting the word out. I hear from new people every week. (Which reminds me, please quit using the military.com email address. It has been acting up from the beginning and now I can't even get into it at all. Almost nothing but spam comes in there now, anyway, so I'm getting rid of it. If you have sent an email there in the last week, please resend it to my other email address because I can't open it to read it, and I don't like to miss an email, okay?)
I really hope to see some of you at the forum this weekend. It sounds like it will be a lot of fun. We are looking forward to seeing the chickens at UPC's sanctuary and meeting Karen. And, we are looking forward to putting faces with the names that we have only read about. It will be a great opportunity for me to meet quite a few of the activists that I correspond with all the time. It would be great if I ran into some readers there. If you come, be sure and come say "hi."
Will Colorado choose wind and solar over gas and coal?
As most of you are probably already aware, I have encouraged readers to write in if they have a worthwhile issue they need help getting publicity for. I have heard from several of you (a couple of you I am still working with and hope to tell your stories soon) with interesting situations that I do believe need more attention than they are currently getting.
The following is just such a personal appeal:
I thought you might be interested in a groundbreaking renewable energy initiative campaign I'm working on in Colorado (www.RenewableEnergyYES.com).
This ballot initiative will be the first time Americans will have the chance to vote on renewable energy and the outcome of the vote will set an important precedent for other states.
Unfortunately, this excellent initiative is facing powerful opposition from one of America's largest power companies, Xcel Energy (Xcel provides 75% of Colorado's power). But rather than embracing this renewable energy initiative as a solution to rising fuel prices and growing energy demands, Xcel's plan is to spend over $1 billion building a huge coal plant near Pueblo, CO.
We'd love to have your help spreading the word about the campaign to your readers. In particular, would you be willing to post something about the campaign and encourage your readers to sign our online petition asking Xcel's CEO to withdraw the company's opposition to the initiative? (You can view the petition here).
Well, there you go, Lisa. I hope this helps. To me, at least, the idea of using more renewables like this just makes so much more sense than continuing to use the rapidly depleting oil we are currently so dependent on. Instead of opening up pristine wilderness areas, it seems to me (quite obviously) that investing in solar and wind power is the way to go.
It would not only make economic sense, but would also help this country be more self-sufficient and not have to rely on nations that are not so friendly toward us for natural resources. These technologies would be more environmentally-friendly as well.
That leaves me to conclude that the only reason that we have not embraced this technology is because of Big Oil. Why we are staying beholden to these thugs is beyond me. Why we continually overlook their humanitarian problems, their dragging us into violent conflicts, etc. is all because of money and greed.
This is yet another way that we need to take back our country from those that have only their own interests at heart.
I'll bring y'all up to date in my next post about what has been going on around here lately (hopefully). I have been really busy lately, but things are looking up!
Have a good day, everybody. My thoughts go out to those in Florida who have been so devastated by Charlie.
Have you heard of the new show "The American Candidate" that came on Showtime last night? I don't usually watch those so-called "reality" shows, but this one was different, so I watched it. I actually enjoyed it too. And, not just because my friend, Bruce Friedrich from PETA, was on there as one of the candidates.
It was a good thing to see these different people from different walks of life, all with what they feel to be an important message, standing up for what they believe in and getting their message out to the American people. There are several other candidates that I liked, too, including the one who was voted off last night. That was a real shame, although I know that is part of the allure of reality shows. At least she had the opportunity to get up in front of everyone and speak her mind, though.
And, Bruce, what can I say? You did great, man! I was glad to see that you came in 2nd in the running after the first assignment - the rally. Wish I could have been there. That must have been a lot of fun. You know you have my support. I'm really glad you have the opportunity to bring a good segment of the public's attention to the plight of animals, in addition to the other issues that affect us all. I agreed with you when you said that you had a unique message and that you thought you could sway some minds. You are pretty good at that. I certainly enjoyed the interesting conversations we have had. I probably learned about as much from you about all the reasons for going vegetarian as you did that first night I met you when we ate the veggie burgers and you took notes on all those little tiny napkins. LOL! We have come a long way since then, haven't we?! Who knew it would have ever gotten this big?
For those of you that haven't seen the show yet, even if you aren't an activist, it is one worth watching. I don't say that about too many shows, and especially not "reality" shows. I don't watch that much TV. But, the people on this show give me hope that there is a chance for the American people to get involved and take back OUR country from the corporations and make OUR government answerable to us again. I hope that there are many young people watching it, especially. We need more young people getting out and speaking up, voting, getting involved, caring.
And all of us animal activists need to do whatever we can to support Bruce in his candidacy on this show. He has an important message to share, and it is not only about how we treat animals. It's also about how we treat each other. He's one of the most honest and compassionate people I know. I don't trust many people, but this man has shown himself time and again to be the kind of friend you know you can count on. I hope that you join me in supporting him. There is a message board on the show's site also, where you can leave your ideas and thoughts and messages of support.
I also hope that you get out and vote in the real presidential election this year. The world is watching to see what the American people will do this year - way more than most years. A lot of them are worried. They are hoping that we can change the way things are going. The stakes are high, and this election will have major consequences for the whole world if we don't vote BushCo. out of there. We need more hope and less fear.
I read an article the other day that made a good point that I would like to share with you before I end this post. It said that all of us engage in a form of direct action every day, simply by choosing a vegetarian diet. By that action alone, we save numerous animals from the awful fate of being tortured and killed. By that action, we also don't waste so many natural resources. Even if you never write letters, sign petitions, or speak up in public, you can still make a difference in this world. Every single meal you eat that does not include an animal corpse is one that has decreased the violence in this world and increased the compassion.
Is it such a big thing to give up meat? Really??? For me it really was not. It was incredibly easy, actually. There are so many new products out now that it just isn't necessary. And I like doing my part to try to leave this a better world than I found it. It makes me feel good about myself, and I have no doubt that it is better for not only the animals, but the environment as well. And the more grain that is not being fed first to an animal to feed me can go to some of the starving people in the world who need it to survive. The water, too. It's incredibly inefficient and wasteful to eat meat, even without the cruelty issue factored in.
It's time for all of us to look deep within ourselves and decide what kind of a world we want to live in - what kind of world we want our children to live in. And then we must try our best to make that happen through our daily actions.
Do you want to live in a world of violence, fear, and hatred? A world with such a vast difference between the haves and the have-nots? Where resources are scarce and little kids die from hunger while the rich get richer and fatter? One where people across the world that you have never met hate you and want you to die?
Or do you want to live in a much more peaceful, compassionate world? One where no one goes hungry, homeless, or without even basic medical care? One where the environment doesn't poison our children, the air is clean to breathe, the water clean to drink? One where we all work together for the good of everyone, even the animals?
It really is up to you. Will you be part of the problem or part of the solution? There is no middle ground here.