Friday, January 23, 2015

Ⓥ The Psychology of Compassion

I, like most other people who care about animal rights, keep asking myself what we as activists can do to get through to the rest of the population. You see, I don't believe that people are inherently bad, or selfish, or uncaring. I also know that most people do not want to think about animal rights issues. So what is the best tactic for appealing to the goodness inside people to get them to take animals into consideration? It seems to me that there will never be any one technique that will work for everyone Each person has different things that appeal to them. Some react better to emotional appeals, others to logic, and there's no telling what specific things will seem important or logical to a particular person.

I think perhaps the best thing we can do is learn to understand more about human psychology. Having a better understanding of the way people's minds work could allow us to determine what causes our society to look at things the way it does, which might give us a better chance at fixing it. It would also allow us to decide how best to communicate with people as individuals, instead of trying to use the same techniques for everyone. Finally, if we are able to understand our own thought processes, it might make us a bit more resilient when it comes to dealing with people who are less than supportive of our cause.

I recently read Carl Jung's The Undiscovered Self, and there was a quote that I thought related quite nicely to the issue of animal rights.

"The effect on all individuals, which one would like to see realized, may not set in for hundreds of years, for the spiritual transformation of mankind follows the slow tread of the centuries and cannot be hurried or held up by any rational process of reflection, let alone brought to fruition in one generation. What does lie within our reach, however, is the change in individuals who have, or create, an opportunity to influence others of like mind in their circle  of acquaintance. I do not mean by persuading or preaching-I am thinking rather of the well-known fact that anyone who has insight into his own actions, and has thus found  access to the unconscious, involuntarily exercises an influence on his environment."

This is a concept that I think we all need to keep in mind. We are attempting to change something that has been a very basic part of our society up to this point. This is something that will, no doubt, take time. That doesn't make it any less worthwhile though. And even if we can't change the world overnight, we still have opportunities everyday to get through to people individually. Then those people have a chance to reach the people in their lives.

If you want to see some examples of the things I'm talking about here, you should check out this video of Melanie Joy discussing the psychology of eating meat. This was the thing that first got me thinking about learning psychology as a way to further animal rights causes.

Also, I've decided that I am going to use "Ⓥ" to denote my (hopefully) weekly animal rights posts from now on. So if you're interested in animal rights posts (or if you want to avoid them) just keep an eye out for it.

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