As the Draft Horse Rescue Resource page hones in on 25,000 follows, I know that our little community of draft lovers must be as different and diverse as a city, with as many opinions and points of view as there are topics to discuss. I’ve never censured my own opinions on hot button issues, nor have I banned or censored those who expressed opinions different from my own.
I first conceived of the concept of DHRR years ago in high school. It was a thought and a dream to create an online network and resource; to connect those interested in helping draft horses in need with those horses that needed them. This was back before Facebook was a thing and I thought it would be a website. Despite my rather pitiful tech skills, around five years ago I jumped in one day, creating the Facebook page, and eventually muddling through setting up the website. I’ve accomplished what I set out to do and it has been far better received than I could have possibly imagined. As nearly 25,000 people are testament to.
Now, though, I’m going to touch on a couple subjects that may very well lose the page some of those followers, because they will not like what I have to say. And that’s fine. I’ve never been in this for the number of likes. I’ve never been in this to spread an agenda or convert others to my beliefs. Because I respect that other people will always have opinions and beliefs that differ from my own. Unless they are actively out there causing grievous injury, I cannot wish them harm simply because they think differently.
That’s the point I want to make, and the issue that’s been occupying my thoughts. It’s the hate, the vitriol, the violence I see every day, espoused in the written word, on my page and elsewhere. I cannot understand or accept it. I have not censored it on DHRR, despite the fact that I’d like to delete many an angry comment that’s calling for blood.
Here, then, is my confession. I am a dyed-in-the-wool liberal. I am a secular-humanist who does not believe in organized religion. I am a woman and believe in all women’s rights. I think all lives are of value, but I am not a vegan. I do my best to eat meat that only comes from local, sustainable farms, but it doesn’t always happen. I believe everyone, human and animal, should have access to affordable healthcare, quality education, and healthy food. And I believe that life is made up of shades of gray. There are very few absolutes. And little to none of that has any bearing on horse rescue.
There you have it. If you no longer wish support DHRR because my personal beliefs differ from yours, that is your choice and I will not be the one to deny you it. I avoid politics and drama on my page to the absolute best of my ability because I can’t stand either and believe they do nothing but divide and muddy the efforts of rescue. Politics, on the micro or macro scale, have no place in horse rescue.
This morning I was accused of being an “anti-Trumper” and a “liberal bleeding heart” on a post relating to the recent photo of the NY City carriage horse laying in it’s stall. Well, yes, I am those things, but what the commenter seemed to completely miss was that I agreed with her! I personally didn’t see anything I would consider abuse. And why on earth should my political leanings have anything to do with my opinions on horse care? I realize there are others that think differently; who feel that photo showed blatant abuse. And many of those same people are calling for bodily harm of the carriage operators. How can you justify advocating injury on one life as recompense for the supposed injury to another? I posted about the horses being live-shipped to Japan for slaughter. Numerous people are calling for bombs to be dropped on Japan, for the entire country of Canada to be boycotted, for any person on the planet who eats horse to be killed. How is that ok? I just can’t seem to wrap my brain around it.
I can understand the difference between the Westboro Baptist Church and every other Christian in America, or that ISIS isn’t representative of every Muslim on the planet. Can others not? Why should an entire country be blamed for the actions of just a few? People in India could say they hate the entirety of America because we eat cows. There are cultural differences in the world! And many countries have eaten horses since long before they were domesticated. I don’t have to like that fact, and I’d prefer the US not ship horses abroad for slaughter, since culturally we don’t eat horse meat, and I personally would never eat it if offered in a place that does, but I’m not going to call for harm on an entire culture or country!
I do my best to avoid generalities. I sometimes make them when discussing the Amish, because it’s easy to lump them all together. I know perfectly well there are good Amish and bad, shades of gray just like in everything else. I’ll continue to make the effort not to demonize an entire group of people. Practicing what I preach. I think working to educate those Amish that are open to it, while simultaneously not exempting them from the laws, is a good way to start. Change will happen from within their society, not from being forced by those outside it.
And I’m going to respectfully ask the followers of DHRR to do the same. Please don’t wish that horror and bloody harm befall entire groups, be they Amish, or carriage operators, or people who might breed, or anyone whose opinion may differ from your own. Try not to make sweeping generalities. Honestly, I’d just like to see the threats and promised violence for every little thing toned down. It’s so easy to get worked up and angry, and cathartic to instantly post that scathing response. Instead, channel that feeling into trying to make an actual difference. There are many, many small and large things you can do to help the horses, which, I’d like to think we’re all here to do. Perhaps I’m naïve. Maybe I am just that bleeding heart, political leanings aside. But I choose to believe in the inherent good in people.