"Do you think we're winning?"
"I don't know. Yes... Yes!"
That would be me, a 31 year veteran of the animal advocacy movement responding to a question I've been asked, and have asked myself, dozens of times through the years, hopefully, doubtfully, anxiously.
I view animal advocacy as a kind of public performance where we bring forth our deepest feelings and most passionate desires for animals to audiences of one or of many. Whatever our private despair reflecting the harsh reality for animals in this world, in the moment of advocacy we stand ready to make practical use of our knowledge, our passion, our goals for animals, and defy the portents. As animal rights activists we may be pessimists, but we cannot be negative.
Pessimism is a philosophic assessment of the world and its prospects. Pessimism of the intellect does not conflict with passionate advocacy for animals, but negativity does. Negativity brings dispiritedness into an area where it least belongs. Pessimism is not synonymous with defeatism, but negativity is, and defeatism is a contagious disease.