Why​ Animal ​Sanctuaries​ ​Matter

Why​ Animal ​Sanctuaries​ ​Matter

At a recent event for the Loveland​ ​Sanctuary, Asher Brown, founder of the LA-based Pollution Studios, gave a heartfelt speech about why we need animal sanctuaries. Get the tissues ready!

Hi.​ ​Thank​ ​you​ ​for​ ​inviting​ ​me​ ​here​ ​tonight.​ ​My​ ​name​ ​is​ ​Asher​ ​Brown,​ ​and while​ ​you​ ​might​ ​not​ ​know​ ​my​ ​name,​ ​you’ve​ ​probably​ ​seen​ ​my​ ​work.​ ​Over the​ ​past​ ​few​ ​years​ ​I’ve​ ​directed​ ​and​ ​produced​ ​hundreds​ ​of​ ​commercials and​ ​videos​ ​for​ ​almost​ ​50​ ​plant​ ​based​ ​brands​ ​and​ ​animal​ ​rights​ ​non-profits, including​ ​content​ ​for​ ​three​ ​very​ ​wonderful​ ​Animal​ ​Rescue​ ​Sanctuaries.​ ​My job​ ​is​ ​to​ ​figure​ ​out​ ​how​ ​to​ ​use​ ​stories​ ​to​ ​bring​ ​about​ ​real​ ​and​ ​radical change.

I’m​ ​here​ ​tonight​ ​to​ ​talk​ ​about​ ​why​ ​animal​ ​​ ​sanctuaries​ ​matter,​ ​and​ ​why​ ​they are​ ​so​ ​absolutely​ ​vital​ ​to​ ​our​ ​cause.​ ​For​ ​me,​ ​that​ ​story​ ​starts​ ​with​ ​turkeys.

The​ ​first​ ​sanctuary​ ​I​ ​ever​ ​visited​ ​was​ ​Farm​ ​Sanctuary,​ ​up​ ​in​ ​Acton.​ ​I​ ​was there​ ​to​ ​direct​ ​a​ ​Thanksgiving​ ​video​ ​starring​ ​Moby,​ ​Kat​ ​Von​ ​D​ ​and​ ​a​ ​small flock​ ​of​ ​rescue​ ​turkeys.​ ​And​ ​to​ ​be​ ​honest,​ ​I​ ​was​ ​focused​ ​far​ ​more​ ​on​ ​the video​ ​than​ ​on​ ​my​ ​surroundings.

At​ ​first​ ​glance,​ ​​ ​the​ ​sanctuary​ ​seemed​ ​like​ ​such​ ​an​ ​ordinary​ ​place.​ ​It​ ​looked like​ ​how,​ ​as​ ​a​ ​kid​ ​I​ ​imagined​ ​farms​ ​should​ ​look.​ ​Happy​ ​animals​ ​running around,​ ​and​ ​a​ ​team​ ​of​ ​people​ ​looking​ ​after​ ​them.​ ​A​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​dirt,​ ​some​ ​exciting smells​ ​but​ ​nothing​ ​that​ ​would​ ​jump​ ​out​ ​as​ ​revolutionary.

It​ ​took​ ​me​ ​an​ ​afternoon​ ​of​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​direct​ ​turkeys​ ​to​ ​put​ ​everything​ ​together. Each​ ​turkey​ ​was​ ​different.​ ​Her​ ​own​ ​unique​ ​person.​ ​Turkey​ ​Lurkey​ ​was​ ​my favorite.​ ​If​ ​you​ ​feed​ ​her​ ​cranberries​ ​she’ll​ ​stay​ ​on​ ​her​ ​camera​ ​mark​ ​for hours.​ ​Which​ ​is​ ​infinitely​ ​longer​ ​than​ ​the​ ​other​ ​turkeys​ ​or​ ​Moby.​ ​Venus​ ​and Serena​ ​were​ ​the​ ​class​ ​clowns.​ ​Fun​ ​to​ ​film,​ ​but​ ​when​ ​one​ ​of​ ​them​ ​starts acting​ ​up​ ​you​ ​know​ ​the​ ​other​ ​is​ ​about​ ​to​ ​follow.​ ​And​ ​Madeleine,​ ​most beautiful​ ​of​ ​the​ ​bunch.​ ​But​ ​she​ ​was​ ​moulting,​ ​and​ ​self​ ​conscious,​ ​and always​ ​ended​ ​up​ ​in​ ​the​ ​back​ ​of​ ​the​ ​crowd.

And​ ​maybe​ ​this​ ​sounds​ ​like​ ​a​ ​silly​ ​thing​ ​to​ ​say,​ ​but​ ​there​ ​are​ ​hundreds​ ​of millions​ ​of​ ​turkeys​ ​in​ ​this​ ​country,​ ​and​ ​until​ ​very​ ​recently​ ​I​ ​had​ ​never​ ​met one.​ ​There​ ​are​ ​billions​ ​of​ ​cows​ ​and​ ​billions​ ​of​ ​pigs​ ​and​ ​I’d​ ​never​ ​met​ ​any​ ​of them​ ​either.

We​ ​accept​ ​this​ ​as​ ​normal.​ ​But​ ​it​ ​shouldn’t​ ​be.

We​ ​never​ ​see​ ​farm​ ​animals,​ ​or​ ​if​ ​we​ ​do,​ ​we’re​ ​trained​ ​to​ ​think​ ​of​ ​them​ ​as identical.​ ​Indistinct.​ ​As​ ​if​ ​by​ ​making​ ​them​ ​faceless​ ​we​ ​can​ ​also​ ​make​ ​them invisible.

This​ ​a​ ​tool​ ​used​ ​to​ ​oppress.

We​ ​make​ ​up​ ​code​ ​words​ ​to​ ​remove​ ​individuality​ ​and​ ​to​ ​shield​ ​us​ ​from​ ​the cruelty​ ​of​ ​our​ ​actions.​ ​​ ​Carol​ ​Adams​ ​calls​ ​this​ ​the​ ​absent​ ​referent.​ ​We​ ​don’t eat​ ​pigs,​ ​we​ ​eat​ ​pork​ ​chops.​ ​We​ ​eat​ ​mutton,​ ​not​ ​sheep.​ ​And​ ​when​ ​we​ ​take baby​ ​cows​ ​away​ ​from​ ​their​ ​mothers​ ​and​ ​force​ ​them​ ​into​ ​tiny​ ​crates​ ​so confined​ ​that​ ​their​ ​muscles​ ​melt​ ​off​ ​of​ ​their​ ​bones,​ ​we​ ​call​ ​that​ ​veal, because​ ​otherwise​ ​how​ ​could​ ​we​ ​stand​ ​it?

We​ ​kill​ ​60​ ​billion​ ​farm​ ​animals​ ​a​ ​year,​ ​and​ ​we’ve​ ​built​ ​so​ ​many​ ​walls​ ​that they​ ​might​ ​as​ ​well​ ​exist​ ​on​ ​a​ ​different​ ​planet.​ ​The​ ​only​ ​time​ ​we​ ​see​ ​them​ ​is on​ ​our​ ​plates,​ ​or​ ​in​ ​cartoons,​ ​or​ ​cut​ ​into​ ​hermetically​ ​sealed​ ​pieces​ ​at​ ​the supermarket.​ ​And​ ​so​ ​we​ ​learn:​ ​don’t​ ​ask​ ​questions.

And​ ​of​ ​course.​ ​If​ ​farm​ ​animals​ ​were​ ​invisible,​ ​then​ ​we​ ​wouldn’t​ ​need​ ​to worry​ ​about​ ​them.​ ​They​ ​wouldn’t​ ​need​ ​freedom,​ ​or​ ​fresh​ ​air.​ ​or​ ​a​ ​mother.

These​ ​walls​ ​shield​ ​us​ ​from​ ​the​ ​truths​ ​of​ ​our​ ​actions,​ ​but​ ​they​ ​don’t​ ​make those​ ​truths​ ​go​ ​away.​ ​The​ ​food​ ​we​ ​eat​ ​harms​ ​the​ ​animals​ ​we​ ​should​ ​be caring​ ​for.​ ​It​ ​destroys​ ​the​ ​planet​ ​that​ ​we​ ​need​ ​to​ ​live​ ​on​ ​and​ ​it​ ​harms​ ​the communities​ ​that​ ​we​ ​work​ ​so​ ​hard​ ​to​ ​build.​ ​​ ​We​ ​lie​ ​to​ ​ourselves​ ​that​ ​this​ ​is ok.​ ​And​ ​that​ ​we​ ​shoulder​ ​no​ ​blame​ ​for​ ​the​ ​evil​ ​that​ ​happens​ ​in​ ​our​ ​name. But​ ​of​ ​course,​ ​it’s​ ​not.​ ​And​ ​we​ ​do.

When​ ​we​ ​teach​ ​our​ ​children​ ​to​ ​accept​ ​injustice​ ​every​ ​day​ ​and​ ​at​ ​every meal,​ ​how​ ​can​ ​we​ ​expect​ ​them​ ​to​ ​build​ ​a​ ​world​ ​that’s​ ​better?​ ​When​ ​we​ ​tell them​ ​that​ ​cats​ ​and​ ​dogs​ ​should​ ​be​ ​loved​ ​and​ ​cows​ ​and​ ​pigs​ ​should​ ​be eaten,​ ​then​ ​how​ ​can​ ​we​ ​teach​ ​them​ ​compassion​ ​for​ ​those​ ​who​ ​are​ ​not​ ​like us.

And​ ​when​ ​they’ve​ ​never​ ​known​ ​a​ ​farm​ ​animal​ ​allowed​ ​to​ ​run​ ​free,​ ​how​ ​can we​ ​ask​ ​them​ ​to​ ​understand​ ​what​ ​it​ ​means​ ​to​ ​be​ ​Protectors.

And​ ​that’s​ ​the​ ​beauty​ ​of​ ​animal​ ​rescue​ ​sanctuaries.​ ​They​ ​are​ ​the​ ​candle​ ​in the​ ​darkness​ ​that​ ​will​ ​one​ ​day​ ​light​ ​the​ ​world.​ ​The​ ​most​ ​wonderful​ ​thing about​ ​the​ ​message​ ​is​ ​its​ ​simplicity.​ ​Farm​ ​Animals​ ​are​ ​all​ ​around​ ​us.​ ​They are​ ​hugely​ ​important​ ​in​ ​our​ ​social,​ ​economic​ ​and​ ​cultural​ ​lives.​ ​So​ ​what would​ ​happen​ ​if​ ​we​ ​stopped​ ​thinking​ ​of​ ​them​ ​in​ ​the​ ​abstract?

We​ ​are​ ​on​ ​a​ ​boat​ ​tonight​ ​that’s​ ​chasing​ ​down​ ​the​ ​storm.​ ​The​ ​world​ ​we​ ​live in​ ​is​ ​wonderful​ ​and​ ​beautiful​ ​and​ ​corrupt.​ ​​ ​There​ ​is​ ​much​ ​work​ ​to​ ​be​ ​done.

We​ ​are​ ​all​ ​here​ ​because​ ​we​ ​chose​ ​to​ ​navigate​ ​the​ ​more​ ​difficult​ ​course. Our​ ​beliefs​ ​have​ ​weathered​ ​a​ ​lifetime​ ​of​ ​attack,​ ​leaving​ ​us​ ​with​ ​courage and​ ​conviction.

Most​ ​of​ ​all,​ ​our​ ​Capacity​ ​for​ ​Compassion​ ​sets​ ​us​ ​apart.​ ​Our​ ​empathy leaves​ ​us​ ​exposed.​ ​Often,​ ​it’s​ ​what​ ​makes​ ​us​ ​hurt.

And​ ​it’s​ ​what​ ​makes​ ​us​ ​strong.​ ​So​ ​strong​ ​that​ ​we’ve​ ​set​ ​goals​ ​that​ ​would fundamentally​ ​change​ ​the​ ​lives​ ​of​ ​the​ ​8​ ​billion​ ​people​ ​and​ ​hundreds​ ​of billions​ ​of​ ​farm​ ​animals​ ​with​ ​whom​ ​we​ ​share​ ​this​ ​planet.

Compared​ ​to​ ​us,​ ​the​ ​meat​ ​and​ ​dairy​ ​industries​ ​are​ ​weak.​ ​They’re​ ​scared. They’re​ ​forced​ ​to​ ​spend​ ​hundreds​ ​of​ ​millions​ ​of​ ​dollars​ ​each​ ​year​ ​on propaganda​ ​and​ ​must​ ​constantly​ ​beg​ ​for​ ​public​ ​subsidies.​ ​People​ ​are turning​ ​on​ ​them​ ​in​ ​droves.​ ​They’ve​ ​lost​ ​credibility.​ ​They’ve​ ​losing​ ​trust. They​ ​need​ ​massive​ ​teams​ ​of​ ​advertising​ ​execs​ ​and​ ​highly​ ​paid​ ​lobbyists, because​ ​they​ ​are​ ​in​ ​danger​ ​of​ ​losing​ ​everyone​ ​else.

We​ ​don’t​ ​need​ ​their​ ​money​ ​or​ ​their​ ​connections​ ​or​ ​their​ ​imagined​ ​power. Because​ ​our​ ​power​ ​is​ ​true.​ ​Like​ ​the​ ​plants​ ​we​ ​eat,​ ​all​ ​we​ ​need​ ​is​ ​sunlight. When​ ​enough​ ​people​ ​understand​ ​the​ ​truth,​ ​then​ ​it’s​ ​over.​ ​And​ ​we’ve​ ​won.

And​ ​so​ ​our​ ​true​ ​mission​ ​is​ ​to​ ​teach.​ ​Ourselves​ ​first,​ ​and​ ​then​ ​each​ ​other. But​ ​mostly,​ ​our​ ​greatest​ ​hope​ ​is​ ​with​ ​the​ ​next​ ​generation,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​next​ ​one after.​ ​Our​ ​children​ ​will​ ​understand.​ ​They​ ​won’t​ ​need​ ​to​ ​hide​ ​behind​ ​lies,​ ​or excuses.​ ​Their​ ​shield​ ​will​ ​be​ ​Truth.

To​ ​everyone​ ​listening,​ ​I​ ​challenge​ ​you​ ​to​ ​think.​ ​Open​ ​your​ ​eyes​ ​to​ ​the suffering​ ​that​ ​is​ ​being​ ​caused,​ ​and​ ​trust​ ​your​ ​hearts​ ​to​ ​lead​ ​you​ ​towards​ ​the light.

And​ ​I​ ​challenge​ ​you​ ​to​ ​teach.

If​ ​you​ ​have​ ​children,​ ​take​ ​them​ ​to​ ​an​ ​animal​ ​sanctuary.​ ​​Take​ ​them​ ​to​ ​Farm Sanctuary​ ​and​ ​take​ ​them​ ​to​ ​Gentle​ ​Barn​ ​and​ ​take​ ​them​ ​to​ ​LOVELAND.

For​ ​the​ ​first​ ​time,​ ​let​ ​them​ ​know​ ​a​ ​chicken​ ​who​ ​is​ ​free,​ ​not​ ​free​ ​range.​ ​Let them​ ​see​ ​how​ ​happy​ ​a​ ​pig​ ​can​ ​be​ ​when​ ​not​ ​trapped​ ​in​ ​a​ ​crate,​ ​and​ ​how much​ ​love​ ​is​ ​truly​ ​in​ ​a​ ​mother​ ​cow’s​ ​heart.​ ​​ ​And​ ​of​ ​course,​ ​let​ ​them​ ​play with​ ​turkeys.

Compassion​ ​is​ ​our​ ​weapon.​ ​It​ ​makes​ ​us​ ​strong.​ ​But​ ​our​ ​fires​ ​need​ ​fuel. And​ ​that​ ​is​ ​why​ ​we​ ​need​ ​places​ ​like​ ​Loveland​ ​Farm​ ​Sanctuary.​ ​To​ ​ground us,​ ​and​ ​to​ ​elevate.​ ​To​ ​inspire​ ​our​ ​children​ ​and​ ​light​ ​beacons​ ​of​ ​hope.​ ​And to​ ​help​ ​us​ ​to​ ​understand​ ​for​ ​whom​ ​it​ ​is​ ​that​ ​we​ ​fight.

The​ ​path​ ​to​ ​compassion​ ​begins​ ​with​ ​one​ ​cow.​ ​One​ ​chicken.​ ​One​ ​pig.​ ​Four very​ ​special​ ​turkeys.

Because​ ​animals​ ​are​ ​our​ ​friends.​ ​And​ ​as​ ​any​ ​child​ ​will​ ​tell​ ​you,​ ​we​ ​don’t​ ​eat our​ ​friends.

Thank​ ​you.

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