Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Stand Up, Fight Back (Euro tour with xTrue Naturex): Wrap-up

so i was going to wait until i got home to do the tour wrap-up, but since i've had so much time to myself here in Holland i feel i should write it now.

This tour was unbelievable. I'll start with that. Some incredible turnouts for our shows, both in numbers and in enthusiasm. I constantly question my contributions to the animal liberation movement, and whether what I'm doing makes a difference in peoples lives... but this trip has offered a lot of reassurance that there are some out there that appreciate my honesty and what I feel I have to share. These past 2 months have been exhausting, FREEZING, stressful, crazy, dangerous, exciting, revealing, affirming, hilarious and educational. I could fit a lot more in there, but I think that'll do for now.

Anyways, to break down my thoughts on this trip into a more palatable format I've separated them into sections.

Veganism + the struggle for animal liberation.
One thing I will never waver on is the emphasis of a strict vegan diet. For anyone exposed to the horrors of a slaughterhouse, dairy farm or vivisection lab, for anyone educated to the ecological impact that a meat eating diet has on the planet, and for anyone interested in maintaining a healthy diet and mental balance the choice is obvious. Humyns do not need to kill animals to survive, and anything less than a diet abstaining from all animal byproducts is complicity in the cycle of violence and systematic murder of other sentient beings. Change comes from within us, and if we ethically or financially support such institutions then we are no better than the ones sliding the blade across a cows throat, or tearing a baby calf away from it's mother, or ripping open a living dog to study the side effects of a household cleaning product. GO VEGAN.

I admit changing your diet isn't the ultimate answer for animal liberation, but the fight begins on a personal level of involvement. what's the point of going to an anti-rodeo demo if you're wearing leather shoes? protesting a vivisection lab if you're smoking out in front? fighting for animal liberation if you consume the disrespected and mutilated carcasses of other creatures? Dumpstered meat and dairy is still a product of rape and murder, how can you turn your back on the animals that suffered just so you can try to put a "progressive" spin on your meat-eating diet?

But to get down to the point, the AR movement in Europe is amazing. So much enthusiasm, creativity and perseverance. We've felt welcomed in every city we've traveled to, treated like we were family and got a glimpse of how strong the global movement for animal liberation is. Going home with some new ideas, and reinstating some old ones.

I absolutely love to travel. I really do. I find it incredibly difficult to stay in one place for more than a month and even as I write this now I'm planning another adventure. I've seen some pretty awesome and inspiring sights on this trip, ones I was expecting and lot that I wasn't, and there are even more to come in the next few months. Very glad to be traveling with such positive and easy going people as well, it's rough spending 2 months in a small car on a stressful trip with only a few inches of room for yourself, but all in all I think things went really well.

I feel very fortunate for the opportunities that I have, and considering the way that I grew up I'm glad I've been able to make the best of my life with the hand that I was dealt. Though, I should say I recognize I'm a very physically capable person from one of the wealthiest countries in the world... aside from me being male-bodied and white skinned. so maybe overcoming a rough childhood and financial hurdles isn't that impressive; but I think it's important to be proud of ourselves sometimes. Regardless, it doesn't take much to get out there and see the things you want to see, and if you want to make it happen it will. If an opportunity presents itself (and they always do): take it. That's it.

Relationships within my community and self-accountability.
I've discovered that for anyone being direct and honest about things can leave that person in a vulnerable position to others who want to take advantage of that. And these past few months have been a pretty consistent reminder that not everyone is willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, or are looking out for your best interest. Don't get me wrong, I want to be part of a community where people are held accountable for their actions, by themselves and others. It's just disappointing to be part of a society where you have to be deceptive and strategic with your emotions, and when others on the sideline are just waiting for you to show a sign of 'weakness' so they can take a stab. BUT, I believe we can live in an honest, compassionate and trusting world, and I won't let the actions of a few deter me from reaching that goal. Be direct! be honest! and show some fucking compassion!

End note.
It's been going really well for me these past couple months, though my head is still a bit torrential. Trying to get past this last year, and looking forward to the future. Had to cut some people out of my life, made new friends, saw some incredible things and had even more incredible experiences. Life is worth living, and the animals and the earth are worth fighting for. I can't lose sight of what's important.

MDG has driven this whole tour, and very well I might add. His home and his work ethic are definitely a big inspiration to me. In fact as I write this he's doing a massive clean-up job in the kitchen that I need to help with once I finish this. He's opened his home to us, and everyone in his life has been so helpful and courteous. To him, and to then I am very very grateful.

Chonga has been a constant source of positivity and fun for this trip. Always laughing and down to party. Ready for adventure at any time. He's definitely a reminder that you can still run a distro and live a relatively comfortable life while spending most of it out on the road. Oh, and we both love Saves the Day more than life itself.

Keegan booked 90% of this tour and has done a ton of work keeping it together and getting us organized. While at the same time having enough energy to rock out every night, and goof off with the rest of us. Always supportive, always willing to give constructive criticism and compliments. It's been awesome to have someone along where I can agree and stand behind nearly everything he says during his set. I got his back and he's got mine.

Endless thank you's to everyone who booked a show, gave us a place to sleep, fed us, kept us warm, argued with us, gave us criticism, sang along and just generally rocked out. If it wasn't for everyones gracious hospitality this tour wouldn't have been possible, though I fail to think of anything that could be possible without the support of your friends and comrades. Hope to see you all again and keep up the fight!

For Love and Liberation,
Mike XVX

p.s. for those of you that hadn't guessed: I've intentionally changed the names of a lot of people written about in this blog, as well as omitted certain events, conversations or whatever else. For my protection and theirs. Practice good security culture!

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