Disruption Only Perpetuates More Cruelty and Suffering
Public disruption doesn’t benefit anybody
“What is worth more? Art or life? Is it worth more than food? Worth more than justice? Are you more concerned about the protection of a painting or the protection of our planet and people?” , yells a ‘Just Stop Oil’ activist right after the two of them pour canned soup all over Van Gogh’s Sunflowers and glue themselves to the wall at the National Gallery in Trafalgar square, London.
In another part of the city not too far away, Just Stop Oil activists have blocked traffic at a critical junction of the city, leading to heated arguments and physical altercations between themselves and enraged motorists trying to get to work, or go home after a long tiring night shift.
Similarly, certain animal rights organizations have been resorting to such extreme tactics to garner the attention of the public towards the plight of animals bred for meat at supermarkets and grocery chains for years now.
While these events may take place sporadically at different locations with a different set of people, no one seems to be asking the one big question that’s on everyones minds.
Are these acts producing the desired effect or creating more problems in society?
While some people agree that there is no other way to draw attention to these issues, the majority are of the opinion that such drastic measures are unnecessary and uncalled for. And thank goodness for that. If anything, they cause more suffering and harm, the very things that they’re meant to be against.
If you’re protesting at a supermarket by pouring gallons of milk onto the floor and knocking meat off counters, you’re only increasing the work of the minimum wage staff working there. The real ones responsible for all the cruelty are still laughing themselves all the way to the bank.
If you’re destroying an art installation or painting, guess who’s responsible for the clean-up after? The lowly janitors and cleaners working at the facility, of course.
If you’re glueing yourself to the ground blocking freeways and busy city intersections, guess whose life you’re disrupting? Not the fortune 500 CEO, or any of the one percent rich, but the lives of thousands of ordinary commuters who can’t get to work on time because of the blockade. Just watching one of these protests take place on one of the thousands of videos posted to Youtube can be pretty painful.
One truck driver missed his interview and lost a chance at a new job that day.
Another one working for the NHS couldn’t get home to sleep after a tiring night shift at the hospital.
Another motorist who was on his way to the hospital, but didn’t specify why, was seen pleading with the activists to get off the road so that he could continue on his way.
Scores of everyday ordinary people who had nothing to do with the oil industry or decisions on fossil fuels were affected by the multiple road blockades all across the week in the U.K. One journalist posed a very valid question to an ‘Insulate Britain’ protestor blocking a busy carriageway in the U.K. for which she received no conclusive answer:
“You’re not stopping politicians in Westminster, you’re stopping ordinary men and women, why is that?”
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This is the environmental rights and animal rights movements on steroids. In their quest for environmental rights and animal rights, these activists are only causing more harm and suffering among ordinary everyday humans, the majority of whom aren’t even responsible for the existence of these problems.
Katie Jgln completely puts some of my thoughts into perspective in her recent article:
What I’m More Angry About Than Tomato Soup on Van Gogh’s Sunflowers
Don’t worry; there was a glass in front of the painting
Here are 5 reasons why disruption is the worst way to institute change and reform in society:
It doesn’t solve anything
Lets set aside all the human cruelty, animal cruelty, and wastefullness that disruption causes, and see if it actually works. Nope. It doesn’t. So even after considering all the sauce poured on paintings, blocked roads, and gallons of milk dumped down the drain, everything is back to “business as usual”.
Even if it did work, it would be the worst way to initiate societal change and reform.
Besides, such tactics might backfire and further reinforce the public’s belief in the legitimacy of such products. Some people might be even more emboldened in their use of such products in a firm defiance of their beliefs and ways. This creates a very negative environment that destroys the fabric of society and threatens communal harmony. There’s enough and more things in the world to divide us and turn us against our neighbours and even our own loved ones.
Do we need the politics of such causes to also come in the way?
So there you have it. The meat industry is back to culling billions of animals per day, fossil fuel industries continue to extract oil from the depths of the ocean, and people still drive to work burning fossil fuels in their cars.
It inflicts an enormous amount of cruelty upon those already suffering in wage slave systems
Intentionally spilling milk on supermarket floors to make the point that dairy is not for humans may get you your five minutes of social media fame. But guess who has to cleanup afterwards?
You guessed it. The poor miserable janitors, cleaners, and supervisors who didn’t sign up to do such work in the first place. The real perpetrators of the meat, dairy, and poultry industries are the millionaires lavishing in the comfort of their ivory tower offices. Nothing that you do at the store is going to affect their daily lives in the slightest manner. The only people you’re inconveniencing are the cleaning staff and the general public at the store to do business.
No janitor, cleaner, or store manager is going to get paid extra just to deal with disruptors. They have to do all of it on their own office time, as part of the job. So the next time you’re thinking of sending a point across by disrupting the lives of commoners, think about the poor souls who would be forced to clean up afterwards alright? The philosophy of veganism extends to all animals, and the last I checked, humans are animals too.
You can’t solve animal cruelty by inflicting cruelty upon humans.
It is excessive and wasteful
While marching on the streets carrying placards and banners is one way of protest, dumping milk on a supermarket floor is no way to go about it. You only waste precious food that could have fed someone for a week or so. In our current reality of excess waste, with so much plastic used to manufacture the product, massive amounts of greenhouse gases spewed into the atmosphere to manufacture it and transport it across vast oceans and land masses, and an immeasureable amount of human cruelty that it takes to finally get the product to store shelves, wasting it is the last thing one would want to do. Even if the point is to put an end to the production of such products altogether, wasting it is only going to cause the opposite effect, which means more of it will be produced, causing even more immense suffering all along the product supply chain.
This directly translates to: Increased human cruelty to make such products, human cruelty to ship it to a store near where you live, more greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere arising from manufacture, storage and transport, and more animal cruelty to produce the raw material for the product, and so on and so forth.
It only leads to more animal cruelty
When you get into a store to empty jugs of milk onto the floor in an act of protest, what do you think happens after?
That’s right. Those products you’ve wasted only gets replaced by the next consignment of products, increasing the animal cruelty in the system because of the unanticipated wastage. That means more cows have to be artificially inseminated, more calves will be fed to the veal industry where they will be slaughtered at just 16–18 weeks old.
All of this will be done to get the supply — which you so beautifully disrupted — back to normal. No meat eater will stop drinking milk or consuming meat by watching this bizarre display of theatrics playing out in the supermarket they’re at.
No use crying over spilt milk when you learn that your actions didn’t yield the desired change in society then, huh?
The disruptors could be doing something better with their lives
Talk about wasted talent.
All that time, money, and effort spent lying on roads, congregating at public easements, spilling milk on the floor, and throwing food on art installations could be spent much more effectively had they been channelized into better endeavours. All those protestors could actually be working with organizations doing something in those directions, for the betterment of animals and human society. They could be working for companies in the plant-based space, like Impossible Foods, or Beyond Meat. Or even with the dozens of organizations that conduct environmental clean-ups and the ones who develop the technology for such operations.
They could even just be involved in normal animal rights outreach which have no element of dopamine or sugar rush in them. I’ve myself participated in dozens of such outreach programs (conducted by organizations like PETA and local animal welfare groups) where we not only hand over leaflets on veganism to the general public, but also get into full-blown conversations with them on why human societies need to make the transition to plant-based diets.
These non-violent programs have gotten so many people to go vegan and have even emboldened some of them to become Animal Rights activists themselves. All without spilling a drop of milk or destroying animal products at a supermarket.
Institutions at all levels and global leadership has consistently failed at getting such issues resolved. And going through legal channels to solve such complex issues is challenging, wasting years of your life just running around from one government office to another. I’m in no way suggesting that the protestors should follow political and traditional ways of getting such issues sorted. Those systems are designed to make it hard to institute change for someone looking to disrupt the status quo.
What I rather mean when I say “wasted talent” is that all these people blocking roads, dumping milk on supermarket floors, and vandalizing paintings could be working for organizations that are already working in the fields of sustainability, alternative energy, plant-based alternatives, and environment restoration.
- Instead of blocking roads and freeways, work with organizations working in areas of sustainable transport, cycling infrastructure, and pedestrianization.
- Instead of dumping gallons of milk down the drain (or supermarket floor), work with companies producing plant-based milk.
- Instead of vandalizing paintings and plastering yourself to museum walls, work with organizations in the fields of green and sustainable energy.
- Instead of covering your body in fake blood and lying naked outside to highlight the plight of animals in slaughterhouses, start a vegan restaurant.
There are a million ways to get things done. Violence and disruption doesn’t have to be one of them.