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For All Beings: Yes. We. Can.

Written by PETA | November 11, 2008
Ingrid Newkirk

When President-elect Barack Obama was born, numerous U.S. states would have prohibited his black Kenyan father from marrying his white Kansan mother. The Voting Rights Act was still a few years away, and the Supreme Court’s order to desegregate schools was being fought tooth and nail. Look at how far we have come. Who alive then would have believed that just a few short decades later, Americans would elect their first black president?

We have broken through a significant barrier, but we cannot stop there. We must now break down the barrier that prevents us from caring about all the “others” who are “not like us,” regardless of race, regardless of gender, and regardless of species.

Prejudice and oppression come about because of a belief that “we” are important and that “they” are not.

In the days of slavery, for example—not so long ago—some people honestly believed that African men did not feel pain as white men do, that African women did not experience maternal love as white women do. And so it was quite acceptable to brand men’s faces with a hot iron and to auction off slaves’ children and send them vast distances away from their mothers. All evidence was to the contrary, yet highly educated people defied their own eyes, ears, and common sense by denying the facts before them. Society accepted this horrible exploitation, and then, as now, it takes courage to break away from the norm, even when the norm is ugly and wrong.

Today, we have abolished human slavery, at least in theory. But we continue to enslave all the others who happen not to be exactly like us but who, if we are honest with ourselves, show us that they experience maternal love as we do, that if you burn them, they feel the same pain as we do, that they desire freedom from shackles as we do.

In their natural homes, elephants live in complex multigenerational social groups, mourn their dead, and remember friends and relatives from years past. Yet we tear them away from their families, confine them with chains to stinking and squalid boxcars, and beat them into performing ridiculous tricks for our amusement.

Rats are detested, yet even these tiny animals—who are mammals like us—have been found to giggle (in frequencies that can’t be heard by the human ear) when they are tickled and will risk their own lives to save other rats, especially when the rats in peril are babies. Although no mouse or rat bankrupted our economy, invaded Iraq, or set poison out for us, we dismiss their feelings as inconsequential and somehow beneath our consideration.

Mother pigs sing to their young while nursing, and newborn piglets run joyfully toward their mothers’ voices. On factory farms, a sow spends her entire life surrounded by the cold metal bars of a space so small that she can never turn around or take even two steps. Chickens who are raised for the table fare even worse. Their beaks are seared off with hot blades, and the birds will never enjoy the warmth of a nest or the affectionate nuzzle of a mate.

The time has come to stop thinking of animal rights as distracting or less deserving of our energy than other struggles for social justice. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” All oppression, prejudice, violence, and cruelty are wrong and must be rejected no matter how novel the idea or how inconvenient the task.

And for those who think that we will never be able to achieve the dream of liberation from oppression, not just for human beings but for all beings, regardless of race or gender or species, I have just three words for you: Yes. We. Can.

Written by Ingrid E. Newkirk

Commenting is closed.
  • clare says:

    Beautifully put Ingrid you have given me real hope that together we can end abuse of animals across the planet

  • Crystal says:

    Ingrid Always the prefect lady.. Very well spoken and prefect manners as always. Thank you for all you do. Because of Peta the evil that people inflict on animals will no longer be hidden from public eye. Ignorance is no longer a excuse. God bless you always. Much love warm wishes

  • Adam Buckley says:

    You are absolutely right. Since about every “… rights movement” in the past has won then obviously in the future animals will win their rights. Even though it’ll be quite some time before everyone goes vegetarian we should still have hope for the future. With undercover investigations and cameras today at this rate the whole world will go veg much sooner than expected!

  • Monika says:

    Ingrid that was so beautifully said. I really hope that in time society will realize this and take action on it.

  • lynda downie says:

    Beautifully said Ingrid! I’m in wholehearted agreement with you.

  • SASHA says:


  • jturbo says:

    Well said Ingrid! Now let’s put this well written article in a well known popular newspaper so it could be read by many.Maybe New York Times??

  • Kristy says:

    Ingrid as always I am inspired by your words and by your belief in the possibility of a future less dark. Sometimes it is so hard to see the good in people. When I tell others my ethical reasons for being a vegetarian I am often belittled scorned and mocked. I am so thankful for PETA and for having likeminded individuals to communicate with. I won’t give up if you guys don’t!!!

  • kathleen w. says:

    What a wonderful uplifting post! I hope everyday that I will live to see total liberation for all animals and everyday I try to do something to help this happen. Everyone can make change by changing themselves and setting an example.

  • simara says:

    Incredibly important points and well spoken

  • Ward says:

    I always find Ingrid’s entries so powerful and motivating. A cold run of energy flows through my body as I read these articulately written pieces and it really reminds me that what I and every other animal rights activist is doing is for a very worthy cause. Ward

  • Jill Harper says:

    I am extremely grateful for Ingrid Newkirk. You are an inspritaion a leader a thoughful caring individual who is changing the world for not only the animals who live here but for the people who also roam this planet. Thank you Ingrid for all you do and the bravery and hope you share!

  • Gina says:

    We know it’s wrong so why do we still want to? Is it really about greed profit are is it deeper in our makeup a deep seated sickness insecurity that we must keep reminding ourselves we are the ‘superior’ and ‘dominant’ species and will keep reminding the lower voiceless defenseless species of this fact bashing it into their heads with a hammer. Even though they can’t understand why we do it as they continue suffer die by the millions for our exploitation profiteering or pure sadistic thrills because we can.

  • beth says:

    I dont’ agree that any ‘being’ should be here on earth to suffer pain anxiety fear distress nor suffer psychologically eg. being kept in confinement and suffer total deprivation be abuse or exploited and last but not least.. to lose their total freedom.. this does not apply only to humans but to any other ‘creature’ or to get more to the point animals.. as all the above mentioned is afflicted to animals of all species in great collosal vast numbers in all kinds of industries where they are exploited by humans.. animals cant’ compete with brute force of humans wielding their devices.. who enforce them to endure all kinds of mistreatment .. so.. yes.. I totally agree with INgrid.. it’s WRONG to mistreat animals in any way to cause them harm pain or suffering.. as it would be to a human .. they say there is a fundamental difference between animals and humans.. that is .. animals cannot reason.. and humans can.. in that.. case.. wouldn’t it be more than long overdue that humans can or should ‘reason’ it is not right nor unacceptable to mistreat animals in such terrible ways as they do.. simply becuase it is the WRONG thing to do?.. if humans could ‘reason’ they would know this by now.. surely would they not?

  • Allie says:

    I couldn’t have said it better myself!