I am going to make you uncomfortable.
Got your hackles up? That’s understandable. As a society, we spend considerable energy making sure everyone is comfortable. Items from clothing and shoes to toilet paper and bed sheets are marketed as comfortable. Cooking shows teach us how to make comfort foods. We ask people their pronouns, their dietary preferences, their mobility challenges and various other questions to ensure they will feel comfortable during our interactions with them. The very idea of someone feeling uncomfortable in our presence is so dreadful that some people would rather walk around a building 15 times rather than risk a confrontation with someone inside.
While it is appropriate and beneficial to a society to ensure everyone feels respected, valued and comfortable, it is important to make a distinction between that and the need to bring about social justice reform, and here I include the no kill philosophy, using strategic, non-violent discomfort to disrupt the status quo. And when the status quo is unjust, unethical and lethal, I would argue we have an obligation to affect change.
Change is uncomfortable. We delay it. We resist it. We deny the need for it. But change is an essential part of life. When we cease changing is when we die.
There never has been and probably never will be meaningful social justice reform without making the status quo feel uncomfortable to the masses. No society has ever woken up one morning and said to itself that owning people is wrong or that voting rights should be extended to every citizen. These changes occur after a long period of time where advocates for change pointedly and repeatedly make more and more people feel uncomfortable with the way things are.
And so it is with the no kill movement. It might feel more comfortable to be friendly and non-confrontational with the shelter director responsible for killing healthy/treatable pets, feral cats and wildlife but that will never result in change. In fact, it does the opposite by providing cover and lending credibility to that director’s actions. Hey, everyone loves our shelter manager – even the rescuers, fosters, and volunteers who are consistently tormented by the needless killing of animals they love. So he must be doing something right!
Make it known through non-violent means that you are uncomfortable with killing as a means of population control in your local shelter. That’s step one. Then make others feel uncomfortable with the killing. That’s step two. Then, try to take over the world.