Leafleting and Lessons at the Paul McCartney Concert
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On Sunday, November 25th, Liberation BC and 12 dedicated volunteers braved a frosty evening outside gate A at BC Place Stadium to speak out for animals. Beneath a larger-than-life screen playing music and film footage from McCartney and Beatles concerts throughout the years, all 17 of us spread into the crowd of thousands of people waiting outside for the show to begin. Tanya, Jane, and Carissa held up signs which featured McCartney quotes about animals such as the well-known “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.” (We’d all gotten together and made them at earlier this month at volunteer night.) Other signs hung from the legendary Terry Fox statue. Geoff, Darren, Kasun, Gillian, Shahla, Samareh, Jason, and the entire board of directors handed out Vegan Outreach leaflets and McCartney’s “Glass Walls” DVDs from PETA. And everybody wanted photos with Lex and Marv in their cow costumes!
At first the crowd was not very receptive and we all had to adjust our approaches. But the powerful influence Paul McCartney has over his fans soon became evident, because many people who were prepared to pass on taking a leaflet changed their minds when they made the connection between their hero and compassion for animals. Eventually we got into a good rhythm and managed to give out thousands of leaflets. And even those who did not take leaflets were exposed to the many powerful quotes on our signs.
Many people took a look at the cover of the leaflets and chose not to take one. Some who took a leaflet came back and returned it, and other leaflets ended up on the ground or surrounding benches. While this kind of thing can be–and was–a little discouraging, it’s always important to look for the positive in terms of how we help animals. As John Oberg from Vegan Outreach taught us when he was in town in October, people who look at the leaflets and refuse to take one or even throw theirs away have been exposed to powerful images of animal suffering, even if just for a split second. These images cannot be erased and there is always a chance that the seed has been planted firmly enough to live on in their hearts and minds.
Leafleting at any time can seem a little intimidating but the decision to leaflet at the Paul McCartney concert presented a couple of challenges. For one thing, people going to a concert might not really be in the mood to think about social justice and secondly, some might say this demographic is just not as open to animal rights issues. But it was an opportunity we knew we couldn’t pass up, and being not too far from that demographic myself, I know it is possible for an old dog to learn some new tricks. As long as we could connect our message to their beloved idol, we would have a chance to reach these McCartney fans and make a difference for animals.
At the end of the evening everyone had positive stories to report: people who had asked questions or came back for an extra leaflet or two for a friend, people who had just made the connection between Paul McCartney and animal rights, and people who glanced at the leaflets but claimed they just couldn’t look at the horrible pictures because it made them so sad. I only heard one negative comment from a guy who told one of our cows to “get a life.” I think an appropriate response from the cow might have been ‘”That’s what I’m trying to do!”
As the Beatles said, “In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make”. Sunday night was a great night for activists to come together and celebrate a great contributor to animal rights. Everyone worked – as always it was an honour to work together with such strongly committed people.