The problem with society

The Charger Bulletin

Standing up for what you believe in is never easy, but it is even harder when your beliefs come with some sort of negative connotation from society. Anyone who knows me knows that I have very strong beliefs about animal welfare and I think, that in fighting for animal rights, I am playing my role in society. I am doing something positive, helping out to make the world a better place. But my question is—why are there so many people who are so unsupportive of people standing up for their beliefs?

When I first got involved in animal welfare, one of the first steps I made was becoming a vegetarian. Why people seem to always have some rude comment to say about my eating habits still confuses me to this day. When I first made the switch to a meat free diet, many people rolled their eyes or laughed when I said I had stopped eating meat. Most people didn’t ask why, they didn’t care to know. They were only concerned with proving their point about why you need meat to survive, which is obviously false. Those that did ask why only wanted to know so they could shoot my beliefs down, try and tell me theirs are better, discourage me and say I would go back to eating meat in a few weeks. It was very rare to encounter someone who was like, “Wow, that’s cool, good for you.”

The next step I took as I was growing as an animal activist was to volunteer at a shelter. In becoming vegetarian, I had expected to receive some negativity for my choices, because I know it is not the norm in the carnivorous USA. But receiving negative backlash from peers for volunteering in a shelter completely shocked me. I wasn’t looking for a pat on the back for what I was doing or for any recognition; I just wanted to volunteer because I liked being around animals and helping them made me feel good. Well, I heard everything from “you’re wasting your time” to people saying I think I am a “do-gooder” and better than everyone else. It was actually really confusing to me. Why would someone want to tear me down when I was trying to make a positive change?

And then I got to thinking about society in general, and I realized it’s not just those fighting for animal rights that face these issues; it is everyone who stands up for something they believe in. Society places all these labels on people who have the strength to believe in something and stand by that, and I am honestly just wondering why. We have labels for just about everything and we throw them on people without ever stopping to think about the consequence that has for them. Instead of supporting one another, we step on one another.

But then it has always been this way, hasn’t it? If you look at history, the road to positive change is never an easy one for whoever is paving the way. What it comes down to is this: society is afraid of change. They will tear you down without a second thought because they are afraid of you, afraid of someone who can stand up for something, because you obviously possess greater strength than they ever could. It’s easy to label people, to judge them for their beliefs, to create negative stereotypes. But to standby your beliefs through all the adversity, to make your voice heard when people are trying to quiet you, well that takes courage, a courage that most people don’t have. I encourage everyone to stand up for what they believe in; it won’t be easy but it will be worth it. And for those members of society who try to discourage people, I want you to take a long hard look in the mirror and ask yourself: are you really proud of the person you have become?