A Facebook friend recently complained about the state of UK politics and how he was washing his hands of it all because the main political parties were all as bad as each other. I suggested it was time we chose the Green Party, at which someone else commented that they had tried this but the Greens don’t have enough members and so will never achieve anything.
As synchronicity would have it, the next thing to scroll up in my newsfeed was a post about the Green Party. It seems there has been a great upsurge of new members thanks to public disillusionment with the existing political scenario.
For some reason this reminded me of MP Richard Martin, an Irish politician who campaigned for animal and human rights at a time when such ideas were generally ridiculed. He pressed for legislation to outlaw cruelty to animals throughout the UK and, in 1824, was one of the founders of the RSPCA, the first animal welfare society in the world.
The RSPCA began as the SPCA in Old Slaughter’s Coffee House near The Strand. In 1824 it caused sixty-three people accused of cruelty to animals to be brought before the courts.
In 2013, the organisation investigated over 150,000 cruelty complaints. The RSPCA is now the largest animal welfare organisation in the world and one of the UK’s largest charities. Its example led to the establishment of similar societies abroad, and it was at a meeting of the RSPCA that the NSPCC was brought into being.
Membership of the UK Green Party is now more than twenty thousand while the original body that became the RSPCA had only twenty-two members. How much good would never have happened had the founders given up because they didn’t have enough members and so would never achieve anything?
Richard Martin as one individual successfully changed the law to help animals, while his friend, William Wilberforce, campaigned against slavery for twenty-six years and lived to see it abolished in most of the British Empire. Thanks to individuals like these, human and animal rights are now high on the political agenda.
One person can make a great difference to the world. Small beginnings can snowball into movements that create change on a global scale. We each need to play our part. You just have to stand up and be counted and very soon other people will see your truth and will come and stand beside you. (I’m Spartacus!) This is why I’m an activist, and have been since I was ten years old when I was appalled to find out that animals were experimented on in laboratories. To me this was obviously very wrong. Over the years I have discovered a great many other people share that opinion.
Am I going to wheel out Edmund Burke’s famous quotation at this point?
Of course I am!
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
I rest my case.