I admit to not having that deep, inherent fascination with human children that most people seem to have, with the exception of my niece (who is ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT AND GORGEOUS AND OH MY GOD YOU SHOULD MEET THIS GIRL!), and my 7-year-old friend, Ruby (a lifelong vegan, whom we interviewed on our podcast). That said, I’m clearly a huge proponent of humane education, and of fostering a next generation of compassionate, caring, active, and vegan young ones. Not only do I think it’s the only chance our planet — and all of its inhabitants — has to survive, but on a completely selfish level, when I’m 100 years old and sitting in a rocking chair somewhere drinking prune tea, and no doubt blogging, I’d like to know that the world is inhabited by at least some people who were brought up knowing how to work to create justice for animals — human and non.
Every now and then I come across a truly special kid, one of the ones whom I look at and breathe a little easier, because I know that this complicated, oftentimes horrifying world will soon be in their hands. It’s these children, who are way too few and far between (not as commonplace as parents or teachers will argue they are), whose eyes carry a depth that is almost worrisome — but ultimately hopeful.
3rd-grader Mia is that kid. Last week, her class was set to take a field trip to the zoo to study baboons. Mia — who recently decided, on her own volition, to go vegan (a decision that then influenced her inspired dad to follow suit), woke up on the morning of the trip and, unbidden, wrote the following letter to her teacher explaining why she decided to boycott the trip:
Verklempt, folks? Yup — me too…
I’m also inspired, beyond words, to cling onto that raw passion that this 9-year-old carries inside of her, passion that will, one day, change the world. And after reading this moving letter, I am further inspired to use my own voice with more clarity and consistency. I am old enough to be this girl’s parent. I have been an activist for well over a decade. And yet it is that raw and clear determination that Mia has — that simple distinction between right and wrong — and that lack of hesitance when it comes to speaking up for those who can’t, which, even for me, can on occasion get lost in a pond of ego and vanity. As Mariann frequently says — and as Mia organically knows — it’s not, after all, about us. It’s about the mission. It’s about the animals.
Mia’s teacher encouraged her to read the letter to the rest of her class during share time. The other students had lots of questions, and Mia gracefully and unabashedly educated the other kids. And that, of course, is how change starts — with one passionate, committed, activist willing to use her voice.