We humane educators know about the Power of One person to make a positive difference. Apparently, that Power of One holds true for motivating people to take action or make a donation, too. We know the dire state of the world: more than 24 billion land animals killed for food each year; more than 200,000 killed in Darfur so far; 28 million human slaves worldwide; enormous numbers of homeless, of those living in poverty, of animals abused and oppressed, of species going extinct, of victims of violence. Those numbers add up to a lot of suffering. So, what's keeping people from doing more? Why won't people give more money and take more action to help?
According to a group of researchers, it's because of the numbers. People are willing to do more and give more when they can identify with a single or small number of victims. Researchers Small, Lowenstein and Slovic conducted several studies comparing people's willingness to give and discovered that "When donating to charitable causes, people do not value lives consistently. Money is often concentrated on a single victim even though more people would be helped if resources were dispersed or spent protecting future victims."
What does this mean for Humane Education? I think it reaffirms the importance of personal connection. We protect what we love, and we love what we know. We can tell people all we want about the numbers and watch their eyes glaze over and their attention wander. Or, we can share the stories of individuals. We can help them get to know Drussa the boy sold into slavery to work a cocoa bean plantation so that we can have our chocolate bar; Freedom the cow, who became a friend instead of food; Luna the tree who lived for hundreds of years and helped nurture an ecosystem until she became housing lumber and toilet paper. We can inspire people to care by showing them how we're all connected, one relationship at a time.
~ Marsha, Web Content/Community Manager
Photo by: Vanessa David