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That moment of knowing

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Emy Will

Emy Will

Greetings from Johannesburg, South Africa. Although I have a doctorate in psychotherapy, my main passion is advocating for nonhuman animal rights. I condemn all cruelty to nonhuman animals and therefore follow a vegan lifestyle. I would like to connect with other animal activists from all over the world. The fur trade is one of the most abhorrent practices on this planet. Innocent animals are subjected to prolonged suffering for a trivial fashion item. As the chairperson of Fur Free SA. we campaign towards ending the global fur industry. This might not happen in my lifetime, but even if I leave one footprint behind, that is one step closer to the goal. This blog is a forum to discuss all aspects of the fur industry. It also raises issues around animal activism in general. Johannesburg is a crazy city and I need to escape from time to time. This photo was taken next to the magnificent Zambezi river.

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Investec Ltd, South Africa: End your lease with Erich Fischer Furriers and stop making money from the fur trade!

THAT MOMENT WHEN I KNEW!

When people asked me as a child,“what do you want to be when you grow up?” my answer was not an “animal warrior” let alone an “anti-fur activist“.  The only understanding of fur for me, at that age, was the fur left behind on the couch by Candy and Floss our family’s cat and dog respectively.

As things turned out, I became a clinical psychologist and so I became interested in the human-animal interaction. I learnt that when a young person is cruel towards animals invariably it leads to anti-social behaviour in that person. Conversely, learning to nurture and care for animals fosters an ability to empathise with other humans.

I loved Candy and Floss and for as long as I can remember I have been sensitive to animal rights issues. Yet the struggle  against the fur trade never crossed my mind until March 2012.  South Africa is a country where if the temperature drops below O degrees C we consider it a national disaster. So when I passed Erich Fischer Furriers (a shop in Johannesburg that sells fur garments) that day in March, I was horrified to realise that there is still a demand for fur garments in South Africa. From that moment on I knew my mission in life was to work towards getting the fur industry banned in South Africa. It is strange how life works – I went out for lunch and came back an anti-fur activist.  The task of getting fur banned in a country such as South Africa, where animal rights are not a priority, is daunting.

But I must never forget, “… that every step forward is also a step on the way to the end. -Milan Kundera

Did  any of  you have that “Aha” moment when you realised you were going to be an animal activist?

http://www.change.org/petitions/investec-ltd-south-africa-end-your-lease-with-erich-fischer-furriers-and-stop-making-money-from-the-fur-trade

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11 Comments

  1. Carmen says:

    Dear Emy, I am forever grateful that I have met you and have had the pleasure of seeing your dedicated work and energy in getting the fur trade banned in SA! It is a very sad state of affairs when people are not awakened to the cruelty that animals suffer and one needs to ask for what?? How, why have we become so switched off?? And if the answer is for beauty .. Then it instills an even greater fear in my heart!! Always will support where i can in your campaign… It will come to an end!! Thank you Emy for your passion!! Carmen

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  2. Emy Wilhelm says:

    Thanks so much for your support Carmen. This is a journey that I cannot do alone. I think your turning point was when you saw photos of animals suffering in the fur industry? Or maybe it was an earlier experience?

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  3. Winnie shmaryahu says:

    One evening, I inadvertently, somehow, opened a clip of a small animal being skinned alive in China, for its fur. The agonizing screams I will never forget – I didn’t sleep for nights!
    I felt traumatized just watching it! Imagine an animal actually experiencing it physically! Can cannot comprehend. Needless to say, the animal activist in me was launched. Although I am not strong enough to be on the front line, I help behind the scenes, creating awareness, signing all petitions & sharing them on FB, raising money for food & medical for local organizations, and so on.

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    • Emy Wilhelm says:

      I know how you feel Winnie. There are some images that just never leaves us. It is so hard to understand how people can actually do these acts of cruelty and still sleep at night. You are doing fantastic work. Raising awareness is so important. If we all speak out eventually people will listen.

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  4. Wendy Johnson says:

    I saw a truck of pigs being transported to the slaughter house and decided there and then to become a vegetarian from that moment on it is as though I had been living in a building where all the lights in all the rooms were turned off each day I realized how we humans exploit defenseless animals in almost every way imaginable for our own selfish needs whether it be for food or clothing or allowing testing for beauty products. Every day another light gets turned on and I am seeing more and more cruelty towards defenseless sentinent beings. The owner of the fur shop you are referring to wrote and article slating the animal rights activists defending his right to sell fur and how the his hard earned profits from his business would allow his children to experience the wonderful feeling if purchasing a car with leather seats something which he felt if they did not experience would leave them deprived. I clearly see the world differently in my humble opinion being deprived is not having food water or education leather seats would never feature on my list of life’s necessaties. But I guess that is why I am an animal rights activist and not a fur trader. … My heros are Madiba Gandhi mother Theresa and bit Bill gates or Steve jobs my morals are value based and not money driven

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    • Emy Wilhelm says:

      Absolutely, Wendy. Whenever I see those trucks carting desperate animals to their deaths I feel sick. It was a truck load of cows that turned me into a vegetarian. As for leather, and particularly fur, there are so many alternatives nowadays.

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  5. Chris says:

    I wouldn’t describe myself as an animal activist but I have always had a great compassion for animals, that over the years has slowly shifted to active support for animal issues. This has grown stronger since my discovery of Zen Buddhism and the teachings of the Buddha that all sentient beings have intrinsic worth and none more so that any other. The fur trade for me represents the most abhorrent abuse and cruelty to animals on the planet. Animals exposed to prolonged torture only for a symbol of material wealth. It shocks me that anybody can find the trade anything other than horrendous. I salute you Emy! I will follow your journey with interest and provide what support I can

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  6. Emy Wilhelm says:

    Thank you so much Chris. Respect for all sentient beings underpins those acts leading to rights for animals, as it did in the struggle for children, women and “minority” group rights.

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  7. Heather Howe says:

    My turning point came when I saw “The Animals” film at varsity narrated by Julie Christie. I was horrified how industries in society hid such large scale cruelty and how in collective denial society is about animal cruelty. Then read Peter Singer’s book “Animal LIberation”

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    • Emy Wilhelm says:

      So true, Heather. There still seems to be a mass denial, particularly around food industries.

      Ruth Harrison, who wrote Animal Machines, said: “… if one person is unkind to an animal it is considered to be cruelty, but where a lot of people are unkind to animals, especially in the name of commerce, the cruelty is condoned and, once large sums of money are at stake, will be defended to the last by otherwise intelligent people.”
      Of note, this book was written in 1964 and for her efforts in revealing shocking conditions in battery farming Harrison was added to the 1986 Queen’s Order of the British Empire honour’s list.

      Have things changed that much? Not really. We must all raise awareness around animal cruelty.

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  8. […] See post: https://emynow.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/that-moment-of-knowing/. […]

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