Some People Surprise You

My little brother and me Last week, I sent out an email to some friends and family with a link to an article about a  proposed bill in the Minnesota House that would criminalize undercover investigations at factory farms (and now a similar bill has been introduced in the Minnesota Senate). Sadly, this legislation is similar to ones that are on the tables in Florida and Iowa as well. In my email I gave some reasons as to why the bill was a bad idea and listed their Representatives’ email addresses in case they wanted to tell them as much.

While I like to think of myself an outspoken vegan advocate, the truth is, I’m an introvert and a horrible debater and the best use of my talents isn’t verbal rhetoric or passing out leaflets. I am thrilled that there are people who have those skills and are willing to employ them for the cause. Every movement needs a variety of ways to reach out to people. I happen to be a good writer and an excellent cook and that is where I focus my vegan efforts—winning people over with a delicious meal and sending out an email every once-in-a-while sharing something that impacted me. I also feel when it comes to politics, being an example of one’s belief system is a better way to convince people to consider one’s point of view than simply telling them what to believe. Yet, this recently proposed legislation that would make it a crime to expose animal cruelty on factory farms and at puppy mills is so insidious, I felt compelled to step outside my comfort zone and encourage action.

I’m not sure what I expected by sending my email to friends and family making them aware of the bill but I can tell you this: I never expected that it would be my brother who would send an email to all the Representatives telling them he strongly opposed the bill. But that is exactly what he did.

My brother. Who has never expressed any interest or care in the world about this kind of animal welfare advocacy. Don’t get me wrong—he’s totally an animal lover. A complete softy when it comes to his pets. But he’s even less inclined to get politically involved in something than I am. He’s a busy dad running his own business and managing employees as well as his household, two kids, and wife. It came as a complete shock when he sent me an email letting me know what he did…just one day after my initial email. One day.

I was so humbled by his actions. I mean shake-my-head-in-surprise, jaw-dropping, on-the-back-of-my-heels humbled. Here I am, thinking I’m doing so much for the animals by not eating them and by growing a veganic garden and then my brother comes along and actually SPEAKS UP FOR THEM in a way I haven’t. He took the time to basically tap the bill sponsors and supporters on the shoulder and go, “You know what? Your bill sucks and it’s wrong and you can go suck it.” Well, those are actually my words, not his. He simply, and appropriately, told them: I strongly oppose House File No. 1369, the bill criminalizing undercover investigations at factory farms.

His actions impressed me so much so that I vowed on the spot to be more active and vocal myself on behalf of animals…to step outside my comfort zone more often. I’m not sure what that will look like at this point, but I am more open to advocacy opportunities than I have been in the past. For now, I will step up my commitment to write more political pieces about animal welfare in more public ways, like op-eds or email campaigns to politicians or even on this blog.

My brother has heard back from two of the bill’s supporters and tomorrow I will post their pitches defending the bill along with my responses to their pathetic arguments.

Thank you, Little Brother, for showing me how to take my advocacy to the next level! You ROCK!