July 17, 2019

Your voice: Small pebble... big ripples



A few years ago, I was taking my usual shortcut through Earl Warren Showgrounds on my daily walk, when I was stopped by a family in an SUV. They had a couple of questions about the Fiesta rodeo, a longstanding Santa Barbara tradition that's part of our annual Old Spanish Days festivities.

"How is the rodeo?" they asked. "Is it suitable for children?" And... "Is it violent?"

If you know me at all, if you know how much I love animals and if you know that I've been a vegetarian for 30 years, you'll have an idea how I answered.

I shared my thoughts honestly. I told them that I don't agree with rodeos, that animals are harmed in the process and that I didn't feel it was suitable for children.

1) Animals (especially mammals) are feeling, thinking, intelligent creatures that suffer physical and emotional pain (reach out if you'd like me to send you resources on on the intelligence and sensitivity of animals).

2) People dominating animals for entertainment is harmful to both the animals and to the onlookers, as the audience becomes desensitized to the suffering of animals. (Yes, I know people still do these activities on ranches, which is an argument in favor of rodeos. That still doesn't make it okay as entertainment.)

But no, there's no blood and gore. The parents were satisfied with our conversation and they pressed on to look for a parking spot.

I had felt heartbroken that day walking through the showgrounds, past all the rodeo horses and other animals in their stalls unaware of the fear, stress and possible injury awaiting them.

The opportunity to speak with this family raised my spirits and gave me hope. I was grateful to introduce them to a perspective on rodeo they might not have heard before, about the effects on the animals pressed into service for what many consider to be an inhumane sport.

They listened and seemed thoughtful, and I hope they took my words to heart and maybe did more research on their own.

Speaking up for change doesn't have to be dramatic or aggressive. It can be loud or soft. It can be a poke or a shove, a shuffle or a stride. Change is change, whether big or small. 

Your voice is needed. Your message is valuable. A pebble still makes ripples!

What change do you want to bring about? What cause or issue are you passionate about? Want to make big ripples or small ripples? The choice is yours! 

Join my #speakingupforchange 5-day challenge starting Monday, July 22, and learn five simple steps toward getting your message off your heart, out of your head, and into the world! 


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