This was when my words failed me. When my speech fell apart before my eyes. This is me—raw and unscripted. Effective activism does not require elegance. Compassion does not require a college degree. The animals need every voice.
There are times as an activist that demand careful preparation, clearly sourced and cited facts, and a composed, balanced delivery.
And I had those at the ready…but this was not one of those times.
When my polished words rang false and all formalities failed, all that was left to do was
JUST. SPEAK. [tweet this]
I spent ample time writing and re-writing a carefully-worded speech for the event. But as I attempted to read my words with conviction, they rang hollow.
This is what I said instead. It is raw, unscripted and from the heart. It’s honestly better experience through video form above but I’m providing the transcription for reference.
The first sentence is where I transition from the scripted speech:
…”it’s a deception that’s powerful enough to manipulate us into committing” – you know what – this is far too formal for right now. I’m just going to talk to you.
It’s a very educational [speech] and it’s very elegantly written, but it’s just not appropriate right now because today isn’t about that.
I typically write and I script my videos and they’re very academic and they’re eloquently stated by the time I get behind the camera. And I write these things out and I think about them forever and I cite them. But today’s not about that, you know, we don’t need a blog post and citations today.
Today is about the animals and about their experiences in their lives.
And it doesn’t take scholarship, it doesn’t take a high level of intelligence, it doesn’t take research, and it doesn’t take anything but just opening your eyes and just looking at them. You don’t need to have any kind of proof. You don’t need to have any kind of backing or schooling, or something to show to someone, or [a] degree. You don’t have to be a medical doctor. You don’t have to have any of that.
You just need to be a human being and to look at them.
And, again, this thing that I crafted [indicating written speech] – it’s really smart-sounding – does talk about the fact that we, as a society, we work so hard to convince ourselves that there is this way for us to love animals and to eat them – to be these animal lovers part-time, in a way. We’re going to love the cats, we’re going to love the dogs, and then we’re going to forget about the chickens, and forget about the pigs, and forget about the cows.
And it’s painful and it’s difficult to be the ones who decide and choose to acknowledge them. It’s not an easy thing to do. I have vegans ask me all the time, why is it that people are so resistant to this truth that’s so evident to us? Once your eyes are opened it’s almost impossible to understand how we didn’t see this before. How could you possibly look at what’s happening here and find this to be acceptable?
And I think [it’s] because to look at these beings and to connect with them, means that we have to look at ourselves and realize what we’ve been a part of up until this point in our lives that we go vegan.
And that’s a really hard realization to make. So instead what happens is people talk about protein and they talk about lions and they talk about all of these things, because to not talk about those things means that we have to confront the truth about what we’ve been a part of.
And of course, I would like to say that [going vegan] makes life beautiful and easy. And it does bring so much beauty into your life to know that you’re no longer participating in this. You’re no longer the monster that someone has to fear. But it’s a double edged sword because also we now have this awareness.
It’s a huge honor and it’s a huge burden, to be this aware.
And as vegans, we can still be very tempted to hide ourselves from this reality and to say, “okay I’m not eating the animals anymore and that’s enough. I don’t need to look at it, I don’t need to go through the heartbreak of seeing what they’re going through because I already know and I’m not a part of it so it’s okay.”
But it’s so important for us to stay connected to them, and to acknowledge them, because it’s still happening for them even if we’re not a part of it. And god knows that no one else is going to come and bear witness to them except for those of us who know what is happening.
So, I guess in the most ineloquent way that I came around about to this, I just want to thank all of you for being here and for doing that – for making that connection and for furthering the depth of your own commitment to these beings because it’s one thing to refuse to participate in the violence and it’s another thing to challenge yourself to stay connected to that – to the very horrors that you, yourself are not even contributing to.
The entire world should be here bearing witness to them. Especially those individuals who are still a part of that. But obviously, they’re not going to be here.
And that’s where we come in. We come in to give these beings some recognition – a moment’s recognition of validation. And it might be the only validation they ever get. It might be the only human kindness they’re ever shown in their all-too-short lives.
Because these are all babies. The way that we raise our animals, these are babies. And so we’re here to give them one moment’s notice.
And that’s a beautiful thing. Thank you.
Learn more about Toronto Pig Save and holding vigil and hear more vegan speeches in the videos below. Like and share this video to inspire others to speak up and subscribe for more vegan inspiration every Monday, Wednesday and some Fridays.
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Now go live vegan, find your voice, and I’ll see you soon.
— Emily Moran Barwick