It’s All About The Children
Max Planck, the German physicist and Nobel Prize winner once remarked, “a new (scientific) truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” This may seem like a cynical point of view, but Planck understood that truth is neither self-evident nor easily accepted; it requires time to erode strongly held falsehoods and persuade people to accept new concepts.
This is why it’s all about the children. It’s relatively difficult to encourage most adults to adopt new attitudes that are counter to how they have always viewed non-human animals. In these cases, advocates may be well advised to go for simple changes in behavior rather than trying to encourage a broader ethical shift. However, many children and young adults are still developing their moral worldviews and, all else equal, are probably more open to a general philosophy of animal liberation.
Advocating to children is in many ways more difficult than advocating to adults given consent issues and the need to maintain an even stronger degree of propriety. But the payoff is potentially huge, with the creation of future generations of people who understand the truth that animals exist for their own reasons and should not be subject to human will or whim.
How many of your organization’s resources are going toward humane education and creating a compassionate next generation? Although they may be harder to reach than adults, consider focusing more on children and young adults with your campaigns. Long-term social causes require long-term perspectives, and that means instilling a stronger sense of compassion toward non-human animals in future generations of humans.
And if you need some inspiration, be sure to check out this short PETA TV video featuring six year-old Alina Foley and her love of animals.