Grasshopper Soup: Animal rights recipe needs more honey

Bob Sweigert

Martin Luther King said darkness cannot drive away darkness, only light can do that, and that hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.

Mr. King was well aware of the life and ideas of Mohandas K. Gandhi, the frail, little man who stood up to the British Empire and drove it out of India by deliberately, and illegally, taking salt from the ocean with his bare hands.

King admired Gandhi and his policy of non violence, which is one of the reasons King succeeded in helping blacks fight racism and earn the right to vote.

The accomplishments of Reverend King and Gandhi were of major significance in the evolution of mankind. Such ambition is rare, and such humility and courage so woefully lacking in many social and moral movements of today.

Even though the ability to push ego aside takes a lifetime to master, and maybe more, men will continue to strive for higher ideals, and a more peaceful, loving and compassionate world. There is a bumper sticker that says, “Keep Tahoe Kind.” No greater cause exists than the promotion of kindness, compassion and love.

If only everyone shared those ideals, and knew how to achieve them.

Our local animal rights activists could use some support in their efforts to bring attention to the way animals are treated when raised for food or used for sport and entertainment. Their cause is a noble one, but their methods don’t seem to be working very well.

The best contribution we can make to the local animal rights movement is to remind them of the teachings of Gandhi and Dr. King. There is an old saying, however trite it may sound, that captures the essence of those teachings. It says, “You can attract more bees with honey than you can with vinegar.”

My favorite quote along those lines is from Thumper, the rabbit in Walt Disney’s “Bambi.” Thumper said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

If you want to inspire people to change their ways and follow your example, or change their hearts and create a better world, you will never do it by arguing with them and demonizing who they are. You will only defeat your purpose.

Your tactics may change a few minds here and there, and gain you personal attention and admiration among your followers. It may elevate you in stature in the eyes of your friends, but it will not gain you the respect of those you seek to influence and change.

There is always more to people than what meets the eye. Our goals and ambitions are better served, and more quickly realized, if we befriend those we hope to change. When you portray them as a shallow, negative stereotype, and accuse them of torture and cruelty, it’s no wonder they tell you to go home. Everyone deserves an equal say.

Instead, greet them with a smile and shake their hand. Visit their homes. Get to know them and their families. Invite them over for dinner and serve them a kosher sample of their favorite dish. Prepare a second dish for yourself if you don’t share their taste. Create opportunities, not confrontations. You might even find that they have as much compassion in their home as you have, and a unique understanding of compassion you can learn from.

Sometimes you have to say provocative things, and take a few beatings, to make your point, but you will only alienate those you wish to change if you appear confrontational. That creates an impasse that does nothing to help you or your movement. They will not be persuaded, and you will never achieve your goals unless they become your ally.

Befriend those you find fault with, and with whom you disagree. Show them that you can be as compassionate and as kind toward them as you expect them to be toward animals. They may not always reciprocate, but that is the best chance you have to convince them of your integrity, and get them to respond positively to your cause.

— Bob Sweigert is a Sierra Sun columnist, published poet, former college instructor and ski instructor. He has a B.A. and an M.A.T. from Gonzaga University. He has lived at Lake Tahoe for 30 years.

Support Local Journalism


Support Local Journalism

Readers around Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and beyond make the Sierra Sun's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.