This post is going to start a little strange, but please bear with me while I make my point.
My family and I took a little vacation. So, when I got home I needed some time to recover. (Ask any parent of kids who has spent over 23 hours in the car with their little darlings if they also didn't need a few days of downtime afterward.) Anyway, during my down time I watched the Michael Jackson memorial. It was really moving in parts and the music was good. A fitting tribute to a man who wasn't perfect, but entertained the world for decades. They also talked about all the good work he had done in his life including being recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records for supporting the most charities, something I had no idea he had done. During the memorial, they had a screen showing pictures of Jackson as well as notable things he had said.
I soon noticed one particular phrase kept showing up, "There's nothing that can't be done if we raise our voice as one". It was something Jackson said regarding his work to help children worldwide. It struck me that this applies to any movement for change, especially ours for equine welfare. If we all pulled together our various strengths and voices we could move the world. However, sometimes we get caught up in petty disagreements and arguments over things that at the end of the day don't matter. Who the heck cares if one rescue will adopt to people who have barb wire fences? At the end of the day if the home is a good one the fence doesn't matter that much and it is a horse out of danger. Who cares who says what about PZP? At the end of the day the issue is that the wild horses and burros are fast disappearing from our public lands. The big issues are the ones we all agree on. Horses should be treated humanely and we want to protect and preserve our wild horses and burros. That's the important part.
Each of us do our best to do the right thing and every little part helps. Why are we fighting each other so often that we lose sight of the important issues? We don't have to agree on every little thing and we shouldn't. We should strive to make things better, but by disagreeing and petty fighting we aren't focused on the bigger picture; horses being mistreated, the extinction of our wild horses and burros, horse slaughter... Sure, in a perfect world horses would go to homes with horse safe fencing (whatever that is), but the bigger picture is that that the horse has been saved from slaughter or an abusive home. We aren't in a place where we can shoot for perfect, right now we need to solve the bigger problems first. If we can all just try to remember that we are all doing the best we can and accept that then perhaps we can avoid some of the problems. Trust until that trust is broken.
If we look at the new pro-slaughter and anti-wild horse group that came from no where we can see that they are setting aside their differences and working together against the horses. They are much better organized and much better funded than our side is. They claim that they represent horse owners, but they don't really. The AHDF membership is made up of 90% horse owners and 15% of those also run rescue facilities. Our organization, as well as others, represents horse owners as much, if not more, than their organization does. However, they organized and have raised their voices and they are being heard over ours, so we need to be stronger and raise our voices louder. We CAN do it, we just need to unite on our common goals and set aside our differences.
It is one thing to use smaller issues, such as your organization's position on fences, to garner donations or supporters. It is another thing to run down an organization who has a different opinion. The first allows donors and supporters an alternative organization to support, but the second is divisive when we most need to be united. I personally love that there are so many organizations offering alternatives to supporters. It allows the public a chance to support the organization that most closely reflects their own personal position while providing information about the bigger issues. It helps get that information out there. But, there is never a need to run down an organization to prop up another one. We are all trying to do the same thing, help the horses. Every organization can and should distinguish themselves from the others, but not at another's expense. Regardless of your position on the proper type of fences, the goal of all the organizations is to have well adjusted and healthy animals inside of those fences.
If we can finally raise our voices as one we can accomplish all we set out to do. It is time to pull together and speak for the animals who can't speak for themselves. It is time for our voices to become one in the overarching issues we can all agree on. Let's raise them loud enough they can no longer be ignored and make those changes we have all wanted for so long.