Like myself, Cobie thinks things through by writing. Here is a recent document that I thought was worth sharing more widely.
I've kept trying to decide: Do I want to focus almost all my volunteer time on reducing animal suffering? Or do I want to spend some of that time trying to help people learn about political issues in general?
The Tentative Conclusion:
I think I've decided to spend most of my time on animal issues. Yes, I'll want to do a little learning about other issues like any citizen should. And I'd like to keep going to an Unlike Minds meeting once a month – discussed further below. Possibly write a letter to the newspaper sometime about what I've learned from having political discussions with people who disagree on issues (and write a few letters about animal issues too). But I don't think I'll really get involved with teaching people about other issues.
What I had thought about doing to help teach people about political issues: First, learn more about the issues myself. And do some experimenting in our Unlike Minds group (a group of 9 people with differing political views who get together for friendly conversations – one of several such groups here in town). In Unlike Minds, we can try various ways to discuss issues. Later, encourage additional people to learn about issues. Possible ways we can help people learn: Spread Unlike Minds to more people, and/or start a website or social media site that talks about ways to learn about issues. Maybe each person who visited the website could post their own suggestions about how to study issues on a separate webpage.
Maybe many others are already doing the things I've thought about, that would help people learn about political issues? I'd like to know.
The reason I was thinking of helping spread political issues in general, is that I don't know whether there are many people doing things like Unlike Minds, or like websites with suggestions about ways to study issues. Whereas with animal issues, I know that some people have thought very carefully about how to spread animal issues, and they are doing some very effective things.
How important are animal issues compared with other issues? On the one hand, there are a lot more farm animals than there are humans on Earth, so animal issues affect more individuals than any other issue. On the other hand, there are crises to be prevented (wars, enviromental problems, recessions), and some of these crises could make it harder to spread information about animals (and could harm a lot of humans as well).
But my impression is that humans have a lot of incentive to prevent crises that could harm us, less incentive to help animals. A lot of people are working to try to prevent human crises, and most likely they will succeed. In the previous century the world survived wars, the Great Depression, etc., and we will probably make it this time, too.
Maybe environmental problems could sneak up on us and kill us all (I don't really know), but if a lot of people consume fewer animal products, that will help the environment a lot.
Another way to look at it: Wouldn't it be a shame if a lot of us got together to stop the crises that might affect humans, and then we watched as the world went on happily abusing animals?
Possibly by promoting the careful study of all issues, I could persuade some people to learn about animal issues. But I would guess that promoting animal issues is going to do the animals more good than a general promotion of studying issues carefully – this of course is all guesswork. So I'm thinking that I shouldn't spend a lot of time on other angles in the upcoming years. If, in some future decade, all the colleges (and high schools?) in the developed world are saturated with literature about factory farming, then I might start to try other ways to convince people to be more compassionate. (In my opinion, the best way to be compassionate is to move toward a plant-based diet – but that's another discussion.)
If it weren't for all the animal suffering, I would work to work to stop human suffering. But I think the best thing I can do under current circumstances is to work to stop animal suffering. There are so many animals who are suffering, and I think the animals are getting much less attention than the “crisis” issues are.
Asking for Feedback:
My overall goal is to reduce suffering, not to work on animal issues or work on other issues.
Do you agree that working on animal issues is the best way that I can reduce suffering? I'd appreciate feedback.
- I'm asking several people for feedback on this, because I reached these conclusions after a conversation with just one person. I remember 20 years ago I decided to go to graduate school after a conversation with another student and didn't discuss it with anyone else. I later realized that going to graduate school had not been what I wanted at all (although other people are welcome to go to graduate school.) So for this decision, I'd like to get several people's feedback.
- I haven't read The World Peace Diet yet. It's someone's opinion about the relation between animal issues and human issues.
- Does anyone know of other movements that are similar to Unlike Minds, or of websites or social media sites that help people learn about good ways to study issues?
- I also want to try praying/meditating in case that gives me any insight.
- I think that for working on animal issues, I'd like to mostly spend my time handing out literature to college students like I've been doing.
- My understanding of things is always evolving, but this is my current impression of what I should work on.
- Sometimes I wish the world were different than it is. I wish it were better for both animals and humans.