Why I do street activism (and you should too)

As I am typing this, 2023 is coming to an end. This is usually a time for reflection, when I look back at my year in order to take stock of how I spent it, and celebrate any victories I have had. It helps me to gain a bird’s eye view of how I spent my time and realise that mostly it was spent productively — a feeling it can be difficult to get when totally immersed in the daily hustle and bustle of a working week.

Among other things, this year I am particularly proud of having started a new form of activism that has taken me to the streets, trying to show people the truth behind what they are eating. In September 2023, I have finally found the drive and courage to join Anonymous for the Voiceless‘s Cube of Truth. You might have seen it in your town or city, the organisation is growing and spreading all over the world, including South America, Asia, and Africa. I decided to join after taking part in a protest where I was able to see AV activists at work. I had already met Cubes in the past (in Poland, Italy, and France), but I had never had the courage to speak to the activists or ask them to join the organisation. I felt like that was not the kind of work I would feel comfortable doing, being shy and fearing that people would be too rude and I would find it difficult to talk to them calmly.

However, during that protest something changed in me, I started to think about how hypocritical it is to complain that things do not go the way they should, while not doing anything to make them right. I realised I cannot count on politicians or others to make the change needed, and that I should be the first to try, especially since I am an educator and feel the responsibility of being a kind of role model for my young students.

Needless to say, as soon as I joined my first Cube I realised that my fears were unjustified, and I quickly learnt how easy it is to stand up and argue for something you deeply believe in. Not only does it make me feel like I am doing my part to make the world a better place, but it also helps me learn how to talk to people, to argue without being rude or confrontational, as well as the value of giving up my time for a cause I strongly believe in.

Anonymous for the Voiceless Cube in Italy

Of course, there are some downsides too. The worst one is seeing how a TV showing common practices in one of the biggest food industries in the world takes out the worst in people. Standing there holding that TV made me aware of how awfully selfish and coldly cruel humans can be, even in this very safe situation. In front of images of cows being tortured, pigs being slaughtered, and sheep being violently mutilated, I inevitably hear comments such as “uh, this makes me hungry, shall we get a burger?”, or the evergreen “you assholes”. Assholes for simply showing what happens every single day to innocent creatures. This is humanity. Unfortunately, joining the Cube has done nothing so far to make me feel hopeful about humanity’s future, and has convinced me that the environmental crisis is just the last of our problems.

On the other hand, there is a wonderful bright side: I have met and meet regularly a community of like-minded people, who share my values of compassion and justice, with whom I can talk and share the frustration, pain, and sadness of living in a meat-eating society. It is a small thing, but it makes me feel less alone, and in a way it slightly restores a little faith in the good that humans are capable of if they really want to.

After a few month of activism, the only regret I have is to not have joined the Cube earlier. I wish that all those times I have been asked “why are you vegan?” in the past ten years I had had the knowledge which I have now acquired thanks to AV in order to answer that question with another, simple question: “why aren’t you?“.

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