Activist blues

Sitting here this morning at my computer, just read that they are to resume live exports to Indonesia within weeks. Industry lobbying against the move to ban exports is too strong. Both Governments and opposition are in favour of resuming trade. They have promised to closely monitor the Indonesians but the minister announced today that forcing Indonesia to use stunning is impossible. What has been achieved?

How do we as an apathetic or simply busy group of people get these archaic horrific practices stopped. I just feel so weak and powerless. Even with all my readers and media clout there is nothing much I can do. I’m at a total loss. I wonder how those incredible activists in the past who’ve won civil rights for so many minority groups around the world have found the time and passion to change their worlds?

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10 Responses to Activist blues

  1. Ruth Ostrow 4 July 2011 at 5:49 pm #

    Thanks Fiona this is a really thought provoking email. Would you mind sending it again under the “comments” for the Animal Issues Four Corners…. that seems to be being well read and I’d like to give your letter a proper audience.

  2. Fiona Lake 4 July 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    Dear Ruth, I have enjoyed your thoughtful comments on people and relationships for many years.
    But unfortunately your comments on animal welfare issues are not based on the facts regarding the big picture.
    In a recent posting you talk about “incredible activists in the past who’ve won civil rights for so many minority groups”. Very ironic, because urban Australians vastly outnumber rural Australians – so in relation to the live export industry, you’re talking about a big majority bullying a small minority. Also ironic, because town and city dwellers can only exist because there are farmers dedicating their lives to producing food to feed everyone. Rural Australians have the lowest standard of living of any Australians, the lowest incomes, highest living expenses, the worst health statistics, etc. Most rural Australians work long and hard hours in less than salubrious circumstances – they work on the land because they believe in what they do. Those who work with livestock do so because they love working with animals. You have pre-existing beliefs and are quick to accept anything that fits in with what you want to believe, while doubting anything that disagrees.
    The reality is that what is best for the whole environment (including plants, animals, soil etc), worldwide, is for people to eat a balanced diet from all 5 food groups, in moderate amounts (as well as reducing consumption, recycling etc). For example, are you aware that many millions of acres on Australia’s large northern cattle stations are naturally treeless or almost so, and that cattle graze on native pastures in harmony with native plants and animals? In fact in areas where there was previously no permanent water supply, such as the Barkly Tableland, native animals and birds have proliferated since white settlement. This is in contrast to horticultural and grain crops on which vegans are completely dependent. These are monocultures – millions of acres dedicated to just one introduced species of plant, devoid of native plants and animals. Are you aware, for example, that most Amazonian rainforest clearing is done these days to grow more soya bean crops (tofu, soy milk etc – i.e. food relied on by most vegetarians), not to graze cattle? Are you aware that the more urbanised the world’s population becomes, the more intensive agriculture must be in order for sufficient food to be produced to feed everyone? Are you aware that organic and ‘low food miles’ food often uses more resources to produce than food produced in intensive systems in more suitable soils and climate? (For an exaggerated example, think of bananas grown in greenhouses in Melbourne.) And that if we ditched all monocultures and intensive systems now, then millions of people would be without food? Agricultural and environmental issues are very complicated as is the web of life. Not eating domesticated cattle bred for the purpose means protein must be obtained from other sources – i.e. crops grown in monocultures where native animals cannot exist. If human beings aren’t obtaining nutrients from red meat then they’re putting more pressure on other sources that in turn can affect by displacement many more animals of all shapes and sizes. If you wish to push a barrow then you owe it to yourself to educate yourself regarding the facts, instead of jumping onto an emotional bandwagon. There are numerous places where you can speak directly with people living and working in remote Australia, to obtain the other side of the story – and the facts that animal rights extremists don’t want broadcast. For example, right now northern rural producers are dealing with the prospect of a government-created animal welfare disaster (hundreds of thousands of specially bred cattle suddenly without a market to go to) which leads on to an environmental disaster (land degradation due to unavoidable overstocking – it’s either that or shoot them) which will lead on to a social disaster (many hardworking people going bankrupt, rural employees without homes, jobs or income; resulting suicides, depression etc). THIS IS THE REALITY ON A BIG SCALE! People in the northern cattle industry are desperate and they are not being listened to. Please visit the Facebook page ‘Save Live Export’ or the ASBF website. People’s hearts are breaking. They are the ones left to deal with the certain prospect of thousands of starving cattle by the end of the dry season. Meanwhile residents of Paddington and Carlton feel good about themselves because they’ve clicked on a Get Up petition, ticked the carbon offset box when they fly, drive a Prius, and have a corflute ‘vote greens’ sign stuck into their English cottage garden in front of their terrace house, where only blackbirds, sparrows and starlings play, because there’s no native plants.
    I challenge you to review your beliefs. Please re-examine the objectivity of the filter through which the information on animal welfare and live exports is passing. Ultimately, ask yourself this: if Animal Rights Australia’s genuine, main aim was to save cattle from cruelty in the Indonesian abattoirs filmed, then why did they wait a few months before screening it, and why did they wait until the peak of the relatively short mustering season before seeking publicity? And if, as has been claimed, they ‘gave no thought to the seasonal cycle on cattle stations’ and ‘did not realise the effect of the timing’, then does not this in itself indicate a complete lack of understanding and/or contempt for the welfare of the millions of cattle residing in northern Australia, on the behalf of those purporting to have the welfare of animals at heart?

  3. Ruth Ostrow 21 June 2011 at 10:53 pm #

    Thank you for your passion Tony, and yes please lets all help each other during these times when one or another of us feels exhausted by the lack of progress. If we all work together then someone is always there to carry the baton.

  4. Ruth Ostrow 21 June 2011 at 10:49 pm #

    Yes I remember we loved that film didn’t we. I think even the most passionate activists run out of steam in the mundane world at the end of a long day of working and kids, and paying bills. And as the film did point out, being in such dramatic situations as a war can inspire and invigorate. Maybe its just an age thing?

  5. Tony Goodman 21 June 2011 at 8:07 pm #

    Hi Ruth,
    I am equally appalled as you are on this absolute butchery and savagery going on with cattle in Indonesia. I have a farm in south east Qld with around 10o cows and 100 sheep (including nearly 30 lambs just born). I love my animals and even have Animal hospital for the ones that sometimes get sick and injured and need tender loving care. Ruth, i thought the Govt showed guts in a complete ban on live export to Indonesia, but then i started to wavier when listening to other opinions and talk back radio comments, that to keep sending cattle to the abattoirs that are doing the right thing, which i believe there are a number of them that are using best practice humane methods. Although a couple of days ago a letter was sent to the editor of our local paper by a man who used to be a RSPCA inspector of NSW and knows alot of the goings on with cattle in Indonesia. To quote from some of his letter: ‘It is downright dishonest to say that certain abattoirs will have an embargo put on them, because abattoirs are not the buyers. Butchers are the buyers of the cattle from the feedlots and once they own the beasts they can take them to any one of the 300 odd private abattoirs that exist in Indonesia to be slaughtered in accordance with the Zakkaytum method, because that is the only way in which the meat can be made halal, ie. fit and proper for Muslims to eat.’
    If this is true, a complete ban must be kept in force. I am writing to the above letter writer to ask him if he can send the entirety of his letter to your blog…it needs a much wider audience than our local paper.
    In finishing i read somewhere that Gandhi once said….’You can tell how good or what a country is like by the way they treat animals’.
    Hope the above helps in some way.

  6. Helen 21 June 2011 at 7:26 pm #

    And another film that is also linked in is my all time favorite Love and Anarchy. The message In this powerful film is that some people are born to die for a cause and it’s probably best not to fall in love with one for tragedy awaits you if you do.

  7. Helen 21 June 2011 at 6:57 pm #

    Hi Ruth

    Just thinking about a movie called Plenty, remember it? The Meryl Streep character lived for a cause and when the fight was over she couldn’t adjust to normal life. Maybe some people are just born for life dedicated activism, while for others life gets in the way. Just a thought that came to mind.

  8. Ruth Ostrow 21 June 2011 at 11:18 am #

    Always honest Sandy. My obsession is search for truth

  9. Sandy 21 June 2011 at 11:16 am #

    Hi Ruth
    I’m so happy we will be able to read more of you. And sounds like there will be more personal stuff rather than journalistic. At least that’s what I’m hoping. As a sufferer of depression myself I do hope thats what you are going to discuss more of, and how you do cope. You seem to cope really well but that might just be from the outside. I’ve noticed a lot of successful people have the same patterns as I do and end up in dark places – so please be honest.

  10. Ruth Ostrow 21 June 2011 at 11:11 am #

    Hi everyone welcome to my latest blog which hopefully will be a daily contribution where myself and you try to make sense of this world. I’ll be looking at social issues films, trends, psychology and my relationships.

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