Friday, October 2, 2009

Asking the Uncomfortable Questions

I had to chuckle when I read the following from a recent article in the Denver Post:

After spending time on Arapaho Ranch, I believe I can reconcile my carnivorous ways with that which comes before I take my first bite: the animal's slaughter.

What meat do I eat now? Meat from animals that were raised humanely. I guess that makes me a "humane-itarian."

This demands research on my part. It asks more of my wallet, which means I'll eat less meat. It turns restaurant-dining, for the most part, into an adventure in vegetarianism. It could make for uncomfortable dinner parties ("Was this chicken raised humanely? You don't know? Oh, OK. I'll just have the carrots.").

You see, substitute 'humanely' for 'ethically' and that's me. And I do ask the uncomfortable questions at dinner parties and restaurants. (I'm very grateful that I have friends who are thick-skinned.) And I will eat the carrot sticks if the meat isn't reasonably local and raised naturally. That's how I do my activism. I won't make a big deal out if it, and I try to be reasonably discrete, but I will ask the questions. By doing this, I both stick to my principles and raise awareness among the people I'm in contact with. Sure, asking the question may feel uncomfortable, but the rewards are great. Afterwards, almost always someone at the table or party will ask me questions. Then a whole discussion gets going. What an opportunity!

I call this ripple activism. Like that old 1970s hair advert: if I tell two friends and they tell two friends and so on and so on and so on... It ripples out. Someone else recently suggested I call it trust activism or relationship activism. People are more inclined to believe in a cause or take action in it when they hear about it from someone they know.

So go on. I challenge you: Ask the uncomfortable questions.


A. Hiscock said...

I really like the term 'trust activism.'

Colleen said...

I remember you mentioning your "ripple" activism years ago and I have adopted it myself - not to the extent you have but still in my own way and it always gets neat results. One of the things I do it keep my greenpeace magazines in my washrooms as reading material - it is amazing how many folks come out and were impressed by an artical.