How to Change Minds and Influence People
Ready for some hard-hitting, badass, street level, change making?
For anyone arriving at this website who doesn't already know him, let me introduce Paul Bashir, Animal Liberationist, Plant-Based Nutritionist, and Co-Founder / Director of Anonymous for the Voiceless.
In their "Cube of Truth" events, which have gone viral across the planet, activists wearing masks stand in a cube formation holding laptops or TV screens depicting real footage of animal agriculture. Paul or one of his counterparts stands by the cube and helps to explain it to members of the public, offer advice and answer questions.
Paul very kindly gave me some time out of his busy schedule to chat about his work to change people's perception of animals from commodities or products, to fellow earthlings. This is what true activism is about. Making real change in the real world.
FU: Please explain what you do for anyone out there who doesn't know (and needs to know!).
PB: Anonymous for the Voiceless was established in April of 2016 and is an animal rights organisation that specializes in street activism. We employ direct action with highly effective public outreach demonstrations using local standard-practice footage of what "food" animals experience every second of every day, virtual reality technology, succinctly informative resources and hard-line discussions that close the deal. We fully equip the public with everything they need in switching to a vegan lifestyle. We hold an abolitionist stance on animal exploitation.
FU: How was AV born and for what reasons?
PB: We were inspired by Earthlings Experience to get out onto the streets and do masked video outreach, and we learned pretty quickly what worked most effectively and what didn't; until the structure of AV and Cube of Truth events were born. Asal and I have molded the orchestration that we use today. We shared our work with the world and people could see how effective it was
FU: Are you related to the founding Anonymous group?
PB: Anybody can be Anonymous if they share the same values, as it is not a centralized group.
We chose the Guy Fawkes mask because it symbolized sticking it to the man, being against injustice, squashing oppression.
FU: I love that, it's perfect - to me it is The Man behind animal injustice so human need to realise they are part of the problem and can stop it too.
FU: Can you say a little about how people can get involved with AV and where they can start?
PB: That's my favorite question so far because the prospect of helping everyday people to get active in the most effective way I know how excites me.
The best way is to check our website or to contact us. Tell us what city you're in. If we have an existing chapter - come along and get involved.
If we don't already have something set up there, we'll send you a 17 page campaign guide to help you get something started up there. It's that simple.
Do you have any favourite "moments" in street activism - when you can see change happening right in front of you?
PB: Yes! The photo I use for my profile pic was one of my absolute favorite moments.
A couple saw us from their hotel window and decided to come downstairs to see what we were all about. Luckily I got to chat to them for 10 minutes or so after they watched some of the footage and they were 100% down to shift their lifestyle accordingly.
They wanted a hug and thanked me... I remember thinking: 'Some humans are exemplary and beautiful'.
FU: Wow, that's incredible. So powerful and moving. Moments like that must really restore your faith.
PB: They enliven you.
FU: In your work, do you ever find it difficult emotionally, looking at so much imagery of agriculture and brutality? People talk of "compassion fatigue". For me personally as an empath, some days I see so many images of brutality that I can't take it and I fall to pieces. How do you cope?
PB: I limit that carefully. I want my activism to be sustainable. I've seen too many vegans break and fall off the radar, never to do activism again. The images, the footage and the non-vegan excuses / opposition can be easily maddening.
FU: Yes, and some are tougher than others. What would you say to those who want to get involved but are perhaps not as emotionally prepared to look at / talk about this footage repeatedly?
PB: Such people can be apart of the cube, wearing a mask. That way, you don't need to watch or hear the animal ag footage and simply observe the public's reactions. At some point, however, we have to imagine how hard it is for the animals and keep that in mind.
FU: That must be pretty huge in itself, to see the reactions. What is the usual response?
PB: The usual response is disgust, horror, mixed in with some apathy and a little ignorance. Overall, people respond really well to these demonstrations as a whole.
FU: So, would you say there are more positive reactions than negative - which gives us some hope for the future?
PB: Yes I would say there are more positive reactions than negative. But would I say this gives us hope for the future? I'm not sure...
I don't like to focus on whether the world will be vegan in my lifetime or not, because it won't, but this world will be vegan at some point. My goal is to make sure the majority of this world takes this issue seriously in my lifetime...
FU: What advice would you give to someone who wants to make a change but for whatever reasons cannot take part in street activism?
PB: If you don't want to do street activism, get online and use social media; especially YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. Do the best you can with these tools, because WE control the media now!
FU: And lastly, any final reflections or insight about why you do this activism, why it works, and why it's so important?
PB: I do the work I do because I think it's dope.
It's effective because we use a progressive value-based sales approach and we champion presention and professionalism.
230,000 new humans are born into the world every day and only 1 - 2% are raised vegan. Farm animals outnumber humans 10-1. If we do that math, we can see why effective activism ought to be a priority.
...I think that sums it up for me.
Paul - thank you for your time and thank you for your work <3
Anonymous for the Voiceless are now worldwide, there are chapters throughout the US, UK, Australia and Thailand amongst others. Look them up. Watch the videos. Get involved. Act!