The day after half of this country elected Donald Trump as its next president, I watched Hillary Clinton’s concession speech. While my own feelings were streaked with tears and tinged with disbelief, I couldn’t help but feel bad for the young people in the balcony at that event. They were crying. They were disappointed. They are likely idealists who believe in their cause fiercely. I felt for them.
The results of our presidential election have had me thinking a lot about speaking up for what you believe. There have been protests against Trump’s election. Some say these protests are pointless; that “nothing will change.” But what choice does anyone have, when faced with being silenced?
As vegans, we all are faced with the task of speaking up for what we believe. Ethical vegans believe that animals are not here for the purpose of being exploited. And, while we believe it with all that we are, there is a large group of people that don’t share that belief. They may simply go about lives very similar to the ones we lived before we went vegan: eating meat, eggs, and dairy, wearing leather, wool, and fur, going to zoos and circuses. Or they may be a vocal opposition: claiming you’re a preachy vegan while posting memes about bacon, trying to sneak animal products into your meals, or rolling their eyes whenever you are the vegan in the room.
Activists are often on the front lines when they are fighting for their cause; no matter what it is, it can be taxing. It’s so important for all of us to remember self-care during times like these. Find community, be it on- or offline. Disconnect from people or social media feeds that make you feel anxious, angry, or overwhelmed. Look to those relationships that aren’t toxic. Disengage when it gets to be too much: watch a movie, take a walk, meditate, or participate in some retail therapy – anything that puts you in a good place, even for a moment.
Perhaps most importantly, we must remember compassion: for our adversaries, for those who are negatively affected by that which we speak out against, and for ourselves. Forgetting it is a path down the “things will never change” path, and we all deserve better.
When the fight seems hard, when a positive future seems too far away, and when fear of the unknown finds us on our knees, I hope we will all find what we need to draw strength and persist.
Feature photo by Matt Gibson