“Progress on this journey often comes in small increments. Sometimes two steps forward, one step back, compelled by the persistent effort of dedicated citizens” said Barack Obama last week. “And then sometimes there are days like this, when that slow, steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt.”
The US President was welcoming the Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriage, making it legal across the country. But his words could apply just as well to our part of the movement for social justice, striving to end factory farming.
I was privileged to be in the USA during such an historic week. My team and I travelled through eight US states in eight days looking at the impact of factory farming; filming and researching for the sequel to the book, Farmageddon.
How wonderful to see the great change happen in America. The White House was illuminated with rainbow colours, and people cried in the streets with joy. Many thought the day would never come. Others, however, never doubted it would.
In this same week, Obama also gave a moving eulogy at the funeral of the Reverend Clementa Pinckney at the College of Charleston’s campus, shot in church by an extreme racist, in Charleston along with 8 others. Obama spoke of “the imperative of a just society”. Instead of hatred, the victims’ families spoke of love and of continuing the path toward equality.
During the same week, the Confederate flag, a symbol of hatred in America, was replaced with the flag of Pride, a symbol of love. Justice and freedom, two founding principles of America, prevailed and took centre stage. Potent reminders that change is always possible.
Obama’s words spoke of patience and perseverance and of the undeterred optimism required to achieve social change. He talked of admiration for those who never give up. “Today should also give us hope” he said, “that on the many issues with which we grapple, often painfully, real change is possible. Shift in hearts and minds is possible.”
As people who want to see social justice extended to farm animals through ending factory farming, we can take great heart from those words. We know ourselves how it feels to take two steps forward and one back. But each step we take is a step closer to that thunderbolt. For animals, people and the planet.