Hunt sabotage

Hunt sabotage is the practice of animal rights activists protesting hunting activity, either by physically obstructing hunts or monitoring and reporting illegal hunting activity.

I recently saw a distressing video documenting the experience of hunt saboteurs in the UK. I was shocked by the footage of a saboteur running to the rescue of a fox under attack from a pack of dogs, screaming down the angry resistance of the hunters. My initial reaction was this:

“This person is putting their safety at considerable risk. They are choosing to live a life mired in the pain and suffering of being so aware of the plight of these animals, being reminded daily of the violent extremes of the human condition. How can this person subject themselves to that? How can they tolerate such risky and painful lives? How can the life of this fox justify this risk?”

After a few more moments of reflection, I realised something very powerful. I guess many people have come to this understanding already, but for me it was the first time I’d made the leap so consciously.

I realised that this person has made a profound reckoning in their life. They have understood that there is no self-protection in shrinking away from this injustice. That to ignore one’s own heart, to ignore the suffering of these animals, to acquiese to bullies, is to allow one’s humanity to be violated; to allow oneself to be oppressed; to give one’s life over to slavery. They have understood that to fight for justice, whatever the costs, is the only way to live a deeply free and purposeful life.

This is not particular to animal rights. We are, all of us, every day, stood at the centre of a swirling storm of cultural constructions of how a life is best lived. As the world corporatises, these ideas are increasingly subject to the manipulation and control of people and organisations who are, at base, attempting to exploit others for their own financial and political gain. You can be sure that such salesmen will never suggest that the good life is found in deliberately subjecting oneself to pain – except, of course, if it will make one’s muscles bigger, tummy smaller, or otherwise improve one’s appearance, social standing, sensory pleasure, wealth, or sense of safety. Pain simply does not sell.

I think for many people, including myself, avoiding discomfort is a primary driver of many life choices. Sometimes this comes at the expense of something far more valuable than convenience or the bland comfort of emotional insulation. Our acquiescence to the vacuous and self-serving spiel of the Salesman, whether it’s the voices on the TV or the ones inside our own minds, is robbing us of our birthright – a life of authentic personal agency, lived in service of the truths self-evident to our own hearts.

We owe so many of the freedoms and pleasures of the modern world to the hardy souls throughout history who reckoned that pain is a necessary and worthwhile consequence of the free- and open-hearted life. Those who could imagine that there might be a quiet, humble, vulnerable and ultimately joyous wholeness available to the heart that has reconciled this difficult truth and chosen the pursuit of justice despite its unavoidable stresses and injuries. Who realised that there is no insulated way to live one’s fullest self and protect the Earth’s people, animals and natural systems from violence, oppression and exploitation.

January 2019