SIUC Dept. of Communication Studies RSOs
Photo by Nathan Edwards; Photo outside Farmer John's slaughter house in LA.
This is the second blog post in a 3-part series. They can each be read independently, but they do connect together. You can find them here: [First post], [Second post]
When we look at the macro scale of human civilization, it is easy to become lost in the idea that we are insignificant compared to the sea of thoughts, progress, pain, and love in which we collectively exist. We often feel like the actions of a single individual can make local change, but when an injustice exists across nearly every facet of our society, we too quickly succumb to the belief that we cannot make any significant difference.
It is true that a single individual can often do very little to enact meaningful social change. We are only one mind inside a hive of billions. However, the true power of humanity lies in our ability to band together under a common cause. Every social justice movement has leaders, but a leader can do almost nothing without the strength of a (peaceful) army. It takes a community of people starting discussions, challenging unjust laws, raising awareness, and developing strategies to take down whatever violent system needs to be targeted.
In my second semester at SIUC, I created a Registered Student Organization called Students for the Voiceless (SV). The goal of this group has been to create a community on campus focused on alleviating and preventing the suffering of non-human animals. We raise awareness of the atrocities that other animals are facing due to humanity’s actions and help other students realize that we are collectively responsible for their mass slaughter. We organize film screenings to illuminate these injustices, set up tables throughout campus to ignite conversations, stage protests, and empower others to realize that change is possible. While I am graduating this semester, SV remains and will continue to build a community on campus.
Everyone who wishes to create positive change in society must recognize the importance of collective effort. My vision entails the abolition of a trillion-dollar industry, and I would be foolish to believe this can be accomplished alone. Yet I would be even more foolish to believe I should not try at all. I consider these animals trapped in our corrupt food system to be my friends, and even if the odds are stacked against us, I know they deserve someone to stand up for them. I know that if we were in their position, we would hope someone is coming to save us as well.
There are countless injustices happening all around us, and no matter which one cries loudest in our heart, we should fight against it with every effort we can spare. Every form of oppression should be challenged, and this requires people like us to speak up. You do not need to become a “full-time activist” to help create change. You could join a non-profit, either local or international, that is working toward your vision. There are so many ways we can help enact social change; through creating videos, writing to politicians or influencers, attending protests, sparking conversations, engaging in civil disobedience, etc. A key factor in achieving social change is inspiring others to join you. Helping people realize the influence that we each possess creates a ripple effect that is more powerful than we often recognize.
Humanity must wake up and realize the reality of our current situation. The true scale of exploitation that we are upholding on this planet is unprecedented and has led to a level of suffering we cannot comprehend. It is now up to us to shift the path of humanity towards co-existence rather than domination. It is up to us to use our power, skills, and voices to abolish all oppressive systems that our species have created. If we don’t, then who will?
About the Author
Nathan Edwards is an SIUC student specializing in Persuasive Communication. He founded the animal rights RSO, Students for the Voiceless, in the spring semester of 2019. Published here is a 3-part series on his journey as an animal rights activist.