Friday, October 7, 2011

Temporary Despair of the Perpetual Optimist

Temporary Despair of the Perpetual Optimist

by Shannon Wright Ramion

This is not pornography, nor erotica, but art. It is a contemporary Chinese painting depicting a classical Chinese beauty reclined in front of classical Chinese paintings. It is here to first speak for itself, and for its creator, demonstrating that the Chinese people is as talented as anyone else. I know one such talented Chinese person. His name is Anthony Marr. And this story is about him.

I first met him at the 2011 Animal Rights National Conference in Los Angeles, where he was a speaker, and a prominent one at that. He had spoken at the conference every year since 2004, and in previous years he was given upwards of a dozen different speeches to make, while other speakers get maybe around 3. This year, he asked that the number be reduced, and still made seven different speeches, including a plenary speech titled “The Methane Time-Bomb – Doomsday Machine”, which scared the living daylights out of anyone except those who still believed that global warming is a hoax, who may not exist in that room. He used no notes, and spoke from his heart for his allotted 12 minutes. His talk was well structured, and he delivered it with seriousness, sincerity, dynamism and passion, and even a touch of humor in spite of the grimness of the subject matter.

In the website, his mini-bio says:

Anthony Marr has a physics degree, and is the author of "OMNI-SCIENCE and the Human Destiny" (2003), where he advanced a new cosmology described by university scientists as "the philosophical systems of the 21st Century". His second book "Homo Sapiens! SAVE YOUR EARTH!" (2008) answers the call of the time. He is now working on his third book. He is the founder of Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE) (1999) and the Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC) (2010). A world-known Canadian wildlife preservationist, he has worked in 3 tiger reserves in India (1997-1999), performed operations in Japan against whaling and the dolphin slaughter (2004, 2005), and led the highest profile anti-hunting campaign in Canadian history (1996), involving 1800 volunteers, where he debated cohorts of hunters up to 120 at a time more than 30 times in a 2-month road tour, and was physically assaulted for his trouble (1998), which of course made him more anti-hunting than ever. Since 2003, he has undertaken 7 Compassion for Animals Road Expeditions (CARE-tours), covering 30-44 states in 4-7 months each. In January, 2010, he was honored as The Best All-Around Activist by Negotiation Is Over. He has been a speaker every year at the Animal Rights National Conference (DC/LA) since 2004 and was honored with the prestigious Henry Spira Activist Award at the AR2010 conference at DC attended by more than 1000 people.

The late Henry Spira is generally recognized as a founding fathers of the Animal Rights movement. The award is not lightly bestowed, nor to be taken lightly. Anthony Marr is the first and only Canadian activist who has ever won the highly prestigious Henry Spira Activist Award.

In January of the same year (2010), Negotiation Is Over ranked him among the top ten contemporary activists, honoring him with the title of the “Best All Around Activist”. The write-up on Anthony Marr says:

Anthony Marr
Best All Around Activist

Whether protecting tiger reserves in India, risking his life in undercover investigations of the illegal trade in endangered species parts; challenging any and all forms of hunting; hosting a radio show; writing visionary books on science, philosophy, and cosmology; embarking on marathon coast-to-coast Compassion for Animals Road Expeditions covering dozens of US states (launching his seventh tour in March 2010), or mobilizing scientific research to awaken the complacent to the immanent dangers of irreversible ecological crisis, Anthony Marr is raising awareness, effectively campaigning, and blazing new trails. In 2009, with several other activists, Marr launched the Global Anti-Hunting Coalition, one that 'can bring the weight of the entire world to bear on the local governments bullying the grassroots Activists.'[5] For anyone skeptical of what one person can do alone or in strategic alliance with others, or what can be accomplished without the large bankrolls such as HSUS commands (and squanders), look no further. For Marr shows what great things can blossom from intelligence, independence, courage, and unqualified commitment to the rights of nature, free from the predatory violence of Homo sapiens. The story Marr tells, and the outcome for which he fights, is not a zero-sum tragedy that pits one element of nature against another, however, but achieves a harmonization of life forces. 'If we win,' Marr says, 'we will have elevated the quality of Humanity, and brought about a major quantum leap in human social evolution.'

Since the conference, I've had the pleasure of getting to know Anthony Marr on a personal level. He is truly one of the greatest people, in my opinion, the world will ever know. He is a phenomenal activist, animal rights and environmental. I've had the pleasure of witnessing him writing blogs, attending demos and debating hunters. All while staying calm and cool. In Anthony's world, things are not done by half measures. If it's going to be done, then it's going to be done right. I've also got to witness how incredibly intelligent Anthony is that at times he has to explain in detail what he means, and this is always done with love and patience. His passion and compassion that he feels for animals and the environment carries over into his everyday life. Usually this includes quick wit and a wonderful sense of humor. When a friend or a stranger has a concern or problem, Anthony is always there to lend a loving hand to help solve the problem or to lend reassurance. He is one of the most confident and optimistic person I know or know of. He's honest and lives his life with integrity. I admire and respect Anthony for what he's accomplished and continues to accomplish, and I'm blessed that he's in my life.

Through the course of knowing him, I have experience mostly bright spiritual weather, but there were dark clouds that passed on occasion. These come in the form of “I HATE the Chinese people!” that seems rampant in the AR community. And I would feel him agonize every time he reads it. Being an activist, it is hard for him not to react, and much of the time, he held his peace. But there were time he could not, and he did speak out.

He wrote, "The Chinese people are more numerous than Europeans, and, with 35 provinces, are ethnically more diverse than Europe,. To condemn the entire Chinese people of 1.3 billion for the act of a few million in a few provinces is tantamount to condemning all Europeans – Swedes, Germans, Poles... for the bullfight in Spain."

“In fact, it is because of the fact that the majority of the Chinese people do not eat dogs and cats that there are still dogs and cats left to eat by the few who still do today,” he said.

He feels personally insulted, because “the Chinese people” include his beloved mother, father, siblings, relatives, friends, none of whom has used bear bile or tiger bone, nor eaten a cat. “Where does this person's hatred begin and end?” he asked.

And he was actually furious when he responded to a comment on the Chinese spaceship launch, that China will bring war to the world, that “the concept of peace is not what the Asian people can grasp.”

Anthony wrote back, “This person wrote from a position of bias and ignorance. With the possible exception of Tibet, China has not conquered any neighboring country. Even when she sent a fleet of fifty five-masted ships to Africa, it was to “demonstrate Chinese power”, not to plunder and pillage and conquer as quite a few European powers later did. Compare the linearly successive Chinese dynasties with the Roman and British empires. And kindly compare the 4500-year history of China to the 4500-year history of Europe, and let's add up the number of wars in each, shall we? What this person wrote is baseless and not historically supported. In short, it is just pure bullshit.”

Most of all, he is pained by the undeniable fact that his beloved Animal Rights movement is rife with hatred and racism, something he believes must be cured, or it will destroy the Animal Rights movement from the inside out.

This said, here is the story that happened just yesterday. I was in Reno and Anthony was in Vancouver, but I personally witnessed him tailspinning into despair, which for a perpetually optimistic person like Anthony was unprecedented.

The most high fidelity way to telling this story is to transcribe here the entire instant-messaging conversation verbatim:

Some time of late, the following facebook post appeared all over Facebook:

Posted originally by Delphine Fieberg:

A while back, at the entrance of a gym, there was a picture of a very thin and beautiful woman. The caption was "This summer, do you want to be a mermaid or a whale?"

The story goes, a woman (of clothing size unknown) answered the following way:

"Dear people, whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, seals, curious humans), they are sexually active and raise their children with great tenderness.
They entertain like crazy with dolphins and eat lots of prawns. They swim all day and travel to fantastic places like Patagonia, the Barents Sea or the coral reefs of Polynesia.
They sing incredibly well and sometimes even are on cds. They are impressive and dearly loved animals, which everyone defend and admires.

Mermaids do not exist. But if they existed, they would line up to see a psychologist because of a problem of split personality: woman or fish? They would have no sex life and could not bear children.
Yes, they would be lovely, but lonely and sad. And, who wants a girl that smells like fish by his side? Without a doubt, I'd rather be a whale.

At a time when the media tells us that only thin is beautiful, I prefer to eat ice cream with my kids, to have dinner with my husband, to eat and drink and have fun with my friends.

We women, we gain weight because we accumulate so much wisdom and knowledge that there isn't enough space in our heads, and it spreads all over our bodies. We are not fat, we are greatly cultivated. Every time I see my curves in the mirror, I tell myself: "How amazing am I ?! "

(The girl on the picture is French model Tara Lynn) Feel free to tag yourselves :)

Since it's initially launching, it had gone viral, garnering over 150,000 likes, 110,000 shares and 50,000 comments.

One of the comments saying: "Absolutely gorgeous" received 97 likes.

Another saying: "My body is that of a 55 woman who has carried, born, nursed and raised 5 children. It does not look like I am a professional rock climber. It is plump and dimpled in places. Some places that used to be thin are full. Some places that us...ed to be full and thin, my yoni is open, ample, receptive and alive. My heart has practiced love many times. I have the lines of life experience in introspection upon my face. My hips jiggle and sway. My belly is soft and shows the signs of it's expansion in order to cradle a life. I am beautiful and perfect. I am a are you in your own radiant uniqueness." received 719 likes.
We were exchanging instant messages when Anthony noticed it in Facebook.

He wrote: 150,000 likes, 110,000 shares, 50,000 comments. I guess my being just supremely intellectual just don't cut it. I'll have to post one of your nude pics.

I: what are you talking about

A: that nake pic post - whale vs mermaid

I: oh! isn't that awesome!!!

A: HELL NO!!! It just goes to show now privolous people are.

I: well yea but that was suppose to show how frivolous people are

A: while my very best probably gets about 3-30 likes.

I: you get more than that

A: I quit.

I: people respect you more than one pic of a naked woman

A: Oh, really? 150,000 to 30.nthis is really fucking disappointing. What's the point?

I: babe don't be like that. you are respected and people love you

A: This is really a revelation, but not the way it is intended

I: i have to fight the chicks off!!

A: Maybe 5 at most. But if I put your nude pic in there, I'll have to fight off 150,000 guys.

I: LOL you're sweet

A: not meaning to be. I am truly upset about this. The world is going to hell and people reacts only to dribble. Tom Cruise gets a hair cut is front page news. I'm quitting.

I: you're not quitting

A: it is not my decision. the 150,000 likes does it for me. Some body commenting "I LOVE THIS!!!" gets 44 likes. Somebody writing "Absoulrtely gorgeous" get 97 likes. Another talking about her own body gets 719 likes...

I: Anthony, go home and write your blog, it's a stupid fucking pic

A: We're really going down and there is nothing I can do about it.

I: yes there is! why are we here?

A: It is not the pic that is fucking stupid. The 150,000 likers are. that's the point, and I have to fight off racism in the movement on a daily basis... I'm sick of this.

I: ok so the 719 likes is over-kill

A: I'm not gonna be writing anything. I'll just go home and vegetate.

I: but i think that so many women have such low self-esteem that this pic shows them that it's ok

A: This disgusts me more than even fucking hunting. At least hunting is openly evil. This is evil in dusguise. Right, body image is more important than saving the world.

I: unfortunately this is part of what we have to fight against. society tells women that they have to look a certain way

A: Babe, this hit me like a sledge hammer. You have no idea how negatively revealing it is. I don't know what to say. It's game over. and we fucking deserve it.

I: please go home and write your blog. you can't come this far and give up

A: up to now, i thought there was hope. this has changed my mind. we're not gonna make it

I: there is hope, this is part of what the world is. This is why you're here.

A: Good night, babe.

I: hey don't leave yet anthony

A: yeah?

I: don't leave yet. if you leave i'm going to be upset because you're upset.

I: are you talking about the planet not making it?

I: talk to me pls. anthony! are you mad at me?

I: i wish you would say something

A: Not mad at you. Anyway, Im calling it a night.

I: we love you! i know you don't care right now buit we love you

A: Doesn't change my love for you. but it sure has changed my whole outlook

I: so write about it

I: Some years ago a woman Ph.D from Salt Spring Island BC campaigned hard and for a long time for something and nothing happend. She then did a lady Godiva down Granville St., and bingo, she got it in a day. So what if I write about it. No one will pay it the slightest attention. I'll again get 3-30 likes for it, including yours. Look, babe, I'm not gonna improve by sitting here. I'll see you tomorrow morning, okay?.

I: i still think you should. this is what our world is like but there was a message behind that pic. unfortunately people are commenting on the pic and not the message

A: waste of time. All I've done does not equal a drop in that bucket of frivolity

I: o yes it does!!

A: even that message is frivolous. Basically, fat is okay. yes, it is okay, and beautiful in its own way, but if the planet roast, it matters not what size or shape you're in

I: yes but it was also talking about how whales are magnificent beings,that's what i got out of it

A: Then you're one in 150,000. "unfortunately, people are commenting on that pic" - that's what I'm talking about.

I: ok i see your point, but there's more work to be done! things aren't going to change overnight. you have done some amazing work and a lot of people stand behind you

A: anyway, I don't want to drag you down any further. maybe tomorrow I'll be better. but tonight is gone. all falling on deaf ears and blind eyes. I'm not gonna spin my wheels any further.

I: you're not dragging me down. tomorrow will be better. you can't give up now. maybe if you write on it people will see and understand. you haven't really written on this subject

A: Babe, you don't see how deflated I am by this. As I said, people will pay no notice even if I write about it. I'm not going to waste my time or talent any more.

I: the 3-30 are the important ones

A: babe, no matter how long I keep sitting here, I'm not going to feel better.

I: I'll see you in the morning, okay? Remember, we love you

A: I love you too, at least this hasn't changed. But I think I have.

I: we'll talk in the morning baby maybe you've come up with a brilliant idea by then

A: okay. good night.

I: nite, you're the best


An hour later, he came back on, meaning that he had gone home, but came back to Starbucks (since he had moved to a new room in the house, but the internet had not yet been installed).


A: Babe, are you there?

I: you're back!

A: Well vegetating is just not my favorite passtime.

I: are you better?

A: I didn't want to leave you in a negative frame just before you go to bed

I: I haven't stopped thinking about you

A: I have done some brain-stroming and have formed a plan that even I think is brilliant :)

I: really?!

A: Really! What i saw that caused my despair is actually a success formula in disguise.

I: explain

A: think about it while I go get a coffee


His rate of recovery is amazing, and, knowing him, I am not surprised. He just bounced right back, with a new weapon in hand, mightier than before.

This should round up my impression of this amazing man. Have I said “amazing” before? Well, it probably won't be the last.
And the moral of this story? As the Chinese said, “When you fall, take it as an opportunity to pick up a handful of sand.”
And Anthony's next adventurous mission? His 8th Compassion for Animals Road Expedition (CARE-8), which he has named the "2012 End of the World Tour", which will cover some 40 states in 7 months starting next April or May. Stay tuned.

And, please share this on.

Shannon Wright Ramion

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