Tuesday, December 12, 2006

symbolic vs. actual

I'm talking about action. Activism. It's been eating at me for a few weeks.

When i read that the camera-ready protestors had finally managed to run the Schumacher fur store out of Portland, it started eating at me. What had they actually accomplished? Nothing. There are still animals that need our help, and a once-monthly protest at some store? Did that actually help any animals? What do the protestors do when they aren't lookin good for the TV people? Do any of them volunteer at animal shelters, or work with abandoned horses, or talk to cattle ranchers about keeping their charges healthy? Are any of the people of college age in any kind of program at school like veterinary tech or even maybe working toward a degree to become a vet? Do they have pets of their own? How do they treat their pets? Have any of them even spent more than 10 minutes at an animal shelter? Or donated a single dime to a spay-neuter program or any other kind of program that puts the right people in the right places to do things that tangibly help animals?

The Schumacher fur store protests were purely symbolic and mostly devoid of any real action taken to help any kind of animal. People will always buy fur. We don't buy as much as we used to, but i don't see us stopping the practice any time soon. So they ran the store out of downtown. Big Woop.

I correspond with Strayer at Cat Eyes. She's a great lady. She puts her money where her mouth is, and she surely doesn't have a whole lot of money to be cramming down her gullet. Her focus is on cats, and i would bet that if she could afford it or make it happen somehow, she might expand to other animals. (Let me know if i'm wrong on that Strayer, but i believe it about you). But the fact is that she goes out and traps strays and ferals and fixes them and finds homes for them, she helps get them well. That's actual action. Her effort sometimes seems futile just because of the sheer numbers of irresponsible people out there. She keeps doing it. She isn't wasting her time standing around some store with a sign in her hand, smiling for the media.

Funny how she lives, also, in the bluest of Oregon's blue cities, and all she gets for her actual action is a bunch of crap. There are no animal activists beating down her door to help her. Maybe they're afraid they'll get dirty or something.

When i first moved to Oregon, someone jokingly told me you can't live in Eugene or Portland or Corvallis unless you have some cause or another. That was fine with me, and i didn't have any causes. Over the years i've lived here, i have taken on a cause. People. Even when i can't hand out money, i still get out and try to do something for someone. I have a couple of people on fixed incomes in different parts of the state that get a care package from me a couple of times a year. It takes me a while to build the packages up, but they always get one from me around Christmas. They are usually some frivolous silly things, some small luxuries, some necessaries and maybe a little cash if i have it. I just added another person to the list of people i send these to. I do a lot of work with the blues society here, and i've played more volunteer gigs with them this year than paying ones with the band i was in earlier. I drive someone around because they can't drive.

At Christmas time i see all the trees around town that have the little stars on them or whatever with a childs name and Christmas list, or a senior citizens name and Christmas list, and i want to cry because i can't just take all the little stars and buy all these people the things they want. Pants! For god's sake, some of these seniors just want a pair of pants!

I don't know. Maybe put the protest signs down and head into a homeless shelter, or an animal shelter, or pick a star or two off a Christmas tree. Do things because it's right instead of because your politics dictate it. Do something, and waiting around for the media op isn't something. Jeez, on my birthday i'm going to teach people how to string guitars that have never owned a guitar, and if they couldn't buy it at the Store That Shall Not Be Named, they might never own a guitar. That's why i'm doing it- i want to take some of the frustration out of it for them. Make it fun right away. "Your fingers will be hamburger! Your neighbors will complain! Your parents will come up to your room and yell at you to turn it down! But what are you doing? Something a lot of people don't get to, so take it up and enjoy it, and get good, to make other people happy, because it will make you happy". Really though, what the hell else is there to do on your 37th birthday?

And by the way i think altruism is a load of crap.

And if you have some extra dollars, head over to Strayer's page and plunk them down on the Donate to POPPA button. Money doesn't taste much better than feet do, but it's more pleasant to put your money where your mouth is rather than your foot.

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  7. First actual comment. Damn Askinstoo!

    Thanks for dropping by... good question to ponder.

    I wouldn't say Corvallis is the bluest of the blue. There are a lot of richies, and Commercialized zombies lurking about. I think that a lot of our activists are dedicated and we do have a diversity of unique people doing great things. I don't think most of the town has a cause... at least not here in NE town.

    While action can outweigh activism, I think we must consider that activism gets multiples of people thinking. Sure, 90 some percent will continue to sleepwalk and consume to their death... but SOME will act up. It plants a seed. And for those who feel unable to storm the capitol, holding a sign is their part in taking advantage of free speech (a truely patriotic action) and planting that seed.

    But yeah, actual action is the rubber meeting the road.

    PS---- looks like your spammer's site has been deleted.

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