The Thing I Like About …

28 Days Later: the people who are “saving” the chimps.

In 28 Days Later, a group of animal-rights activists break into a lab and attempt to free a group of chimps and other animals that are part of an experiment. The animals don’t look as though they’re being mistreated per se, but they don’t look happy either, and they’re being forced to watch horrible images of violence and chaos. I don’t think animals should be tortured; hopefully few people think animals should be tortured. And I certainly don’t know – even in the context of the film – exactly what purpose there was in forcing the monkeys to watch violent television.

It’s not that I disagreed with the animal-rights activists, per se.

It’s that the animal-rights activists act without knowing all the facts – even when the nice, terrified scientist man tries to tell them the facts – and their subsequent “rescue” of the animals unleashes a zombie plague that decimates England and threatens the whole world.

People pretty much want to do good in the world. And they want that “good” to happen right now, no waiting. No red tape. No discussion. No chance for the people on the “other side” to say their reasons for thinking the “good” thing may not be so good. They get frustrated with government for “dragging their feet” … but then they get equally frustrated – and angry and litigious – if government acts without having “gotten all the facts” … the “good” facts.

Reality is a little more complex than that.

We should champion the causes we think are important. But it’s also important to make sure we know which side we’re on. It’s very, very easy to make mistakes; it’s also very like the world to change of its own accord, so that what was once the truth is no longer so. Should we all just stand around waiting for some ultimate end-of-time fact-meeting before doing anything? Hardly. But it might be useful to listen to the information we’re already receiving, and to base our actions on what will help – instead of on fear, or on a need to “win”, or on a misguided notion that “I was trying to help” will somehow magically put the zombie-rage back in the cage.

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