Putting on a show
“I love to put on a show for my friends and family but they know that it is no show when it comes to my attitude to animal cruelty.”
And so began Kelsea’s impromptu speech in the Year 5/6 State Finals of the Multicultural Public Speaking competition, the only state wide competition for primary school students. As I sat in the audience mesmerised by this eleven years old grasp of the difference between right and wrong and her sense of justice for all living creatures I was filled with a sense of hope for the future. Things may not be progressing as fast as I or many other animals lovers would like but I knew there and then that there are a vast army of devotees ready to take over from our generation’s legacy. Kelsea was not the only one to tackle animal cruelty in her speech and a number of the others also talked about environmental problems. They did so with sincerity and passion. Although they are children, they have an awareness beyond their years and they are the leaders of the future.
Kelsea was the runner up in this competition, an amazing feat considering that there were over 1200 contestants and as a year five student she was one of the youngest. Her downfall – she attempted to cover too many topics in the two minutes allowed – animal testing, factory farming and the live export trade.
There have been times in the past year or so that I have pondered whether I should be exposing her to this horror. But she assures me that “she wants to know” and that she “doesn’t want to live in a bubble”. She is still like any typical eleven year old in other ways. She has an amazing imagination, she plays, she draws and she loves to read. She is messy and sometimes lazy but she cares deeply about how society functions and doesn’t necessarily accept “the way it is”. Like all children she is open to possibilities, finding new and better ways of doing things and above all fairness. To her, the solution to animal cruelty is easy – we just have to stop it because it is wrong.
I wonder at what age will she grasp that right and wrong really have no bearing in this world of ours’. That human beings despite being the most powerful species on the planet are not equally endowed with the qualities of compassion or empathy. At that point, I wonder whether she continue in her quest or will she give up? I suspect the later and I think most of her generation will be the same. Youth always questions the actions of those who have gone before and we have created much for them to question: reducing animals to mere components on a factory line, inventing machines to kill faster, crates and cages to immobilise better, surgical techniques to mutilate more body parts, increasing fast food outlets to drive consumption and bigger and better lies to fuel people’s ignorance.
For me (on much reflection) the topic “Putting on a show” conjures up images of people indulging in superficial pastimes to avoid the ugly realities of life. Obsessions with Big Brother and Master Chef, the best barista in town, the latest gadgets and fads, shoes and handbags and of course sport. Anything that will help us quell that uneasy feeling that we feel when we know that something isn’t right but we don’t want to do anything about it.
2012 has been an exhausting year. Three months recovering from two ruptured discs, major house renovations to turn our humble shack into something more liveable for our three growing children, work pressures and the constant pressure of caring for our family of animals. We have had sadness – losing our beloved Red as well as the realisation that our enigmatic and adored pig Duncan will probably not have a long lifespan. We have also had happy times – the arrival of a precious pony Sandy who will accompany Kelsea on her journey into adulthood (all of which I will write about soon). Through it all, my children and animals have continued to be a constant source of amazement, and provided me with experiences, so rich and profound that I feel incredibly blessed.
But for me the defining moment will always be seeing Kelsea on stage talking about a new world order. One which I may never know in my lifetime but whose time is long overdue.