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Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism

I have often thought about what 'hero' really means. The media throws it around all the time & I believe misses the true meaning especially when they assign the term to football players & other sporting stars/celebrities.


Having read 'Who is Saving Animals? by Kezia Jauron on this forum & the accompanying replies I see the word hero again being used. This time for activists. I don't see as heroic someone rescuing a dog or cat or other animal especially when the action of the activist was in no way brave or dangerous or 'heroic'.


I have just finished watching Eco-Pirate, The Story of Paul Watson & now have a clear vision of what I believe is a hero. He puts his liberty & life on the line year after year to save the life of another living being. Now that is a hero!   

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Human beings invent heroes because we want to believe that there is someone who can rise above the desperation we feel all around us - we want a mythology that makes sense of the absurdity, so we create one. So, people pretend that *if only* everyone would listen to what this one brilliant person has to say, then all our troubles would be solved, *if only* we could all be like those brave souls who "fight the good fight" then our struggles would be over.

But that's not how life works. We think it is, because when we look back on history, it's next to impossible to think of all of the people and all of the individual actions that had a hand in any one event - so what we do is reduce those complexities down to a mythology of a man or a few men (and it's almost always the man who is the hero). Wilberforce was the man who brought an end to slavery in Great Britain, the mythology says, except it isn't true. Just as it isn't true that Abraham Lincoln ended slavery in the US. Both men were part of what happened, but what actually happened was so complex (and in some ways still ongoing) that we can't think of it. So we put everything we know (and many things we don't know) into an image of a man, so we can try to make sense of history.

Is Paul Watson a hero? I'd say no. Whatever he's doing, he's doing in concert with many other people, and he certainly couldn't be doing it alone. He couldn't be doing it at a different time, or in a different place. The world has made him into a hero because it needs him to be one.

I wish it were the case that we didn't need heroes. I wish it were the case that in a movement like ours that is made up overwhelmingly of females, that we didn't need white, European males to lead us. What does it say of a movement that seeks to end hierarchy and domination that it upholds within itself a patriarchal ideological domination through its practice and discourse? It says to me that this movement needs to do lot of work. What it doesn't need is anymore heroes.

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