Long ago, as a five-year-old living with my family in a two-room cabin along the banks of the Similkameen River, I happened to look outside one autumn morning to see a wounded deer fleeing for his life. Blood flowed from a wound in his side. Horrified, I remember asking my father what had happened. "A hunter," he replied. The memory haunted me…the frightened glance of the injured animal as his eyes briefly met mine through the window, and the image of a crimson gash against a soft chestnut coat. I often wondered if the deer had survived, and I thought about how much pain he must surely have suffered. Soon after this incident, I declared that I was going to be a vegetarian, that it was "wrong" to hurt and eat animals. But many years were to pass before I would actually take that step, and many more before my interest in helping animals was to grow into a driving force.
That is truly the best way to describe the motivation behind my work involving the rights of animals: a driving force, an energy and resolve that is not restricted to my person, but flows from a power far greater than myself. I am a tool, and a willing one. I am not in this world to take from it, to "harvest its resources" for my own gain or my pleasure. I am here to make a difference, and to the awesome power that has granted me life, I have given my commitment to do the very best I can while I walk upon the earth. Herein lies my mission and my purpose.
Our world of incredible natural beauty is imprinted with the mistakes and violations of humankind. Evidence of this influence is to be found beyond the urban areas and farmlands (where animals are freely and often cruelly used for purposes of "benefit" to modern civilization). The abuses extend into the far reaches of our fields and forests, our lakes, streams and oceans. There, hunters, trappers, and fishers busily harvest living beings not only for food, but for profit and personal trophies. Most animal "users" claim that they have an inherent right to continue their activities; often they attempt to establish ethical credibility by referring to what they claim is "biblical" permission to use animals. They have a tendency to downplay or ignore warning signs–such as the health hazards associated with meat consumption, the environmental concerns when massive numbers of animals are "harvested", world hunger (which could be alleviated through a plant-based diet), and the moral implications when humans become desensitized to the suffering of other living beings. They "know not what they do", but the time will come when the problems created by humankind will be too critical to ignore. That time is not far away.
This will be the turning point, the dawning of an era that will herald another way to live, governed by a fair, inspiring, and permanent code of ethics for our world. Included will be all species of life. Wars and terrorism will become a part of our nightmarish history, as will the slaughter of animals. One day, in meekness, we will deserve to inherit the earth. As a mother loves her newborn, we will tenderly care for and nurture the intricate, wondrous world created not only for humans, but for every living being.
I am simply a committed part of that process, which many have dubbed a "movement". My purpose is to enlighten, to educate, and to help build and direct momentum, because a time of great fear and confusion is upon us. In desperation, many will reach out to grasp the cord that binds them to the power that created them; and those who advocate for a peaceful creation will guide their flailing hands. The movement is gathering strength in all corners of the world, and it will not subside until the work is done.
For all life,
(from Softly On This Earth by Ethan Smith, Trafford, 2004)
Presently I live in Westbank, B.C., with my husband, two teenage children, and numerous non-human family members. I am a registered nurse, retired from active practise and working in the field of animal protection as former President and Co-founder of TRACS (The Responsible Animal Care Society).