#5 got compassion?

In viewing one of milk’s most notorious campaign slogans, got milk? one might question why the dairy industry isn’t represented by got compassion? or got quality?, but instead an invoking question of have our product? As British author Simon Sinek explains, all of the most successful campaigns all share a similar theme, which is rooted in the motivation behind their existence.  Leaders, companies, and businesses who rely on why they exist, and what their desires, or goals are (beyond receiving a profit), are much more successful compared to those who rely on their products, or the what  of their enterprise model. Simon Sinek’s powerful model for inspirational leadership, which starts with a golden circle and the question “why?”, is the foundation for culmination of a campaign, and is heavily relevant to topic that I am researching.

The concern of mistreatment of animals dates back to the early 1600s, when the Ireland parliament moved to treat their farm animals more humanely. The distinction between the concern of the treatment of animals, and the Animal Rights movement occurred when Peter Singer published Animal Liberation, which depicted the conditions on farms and in laboratories. This publication was to have a major influence on how the animal movement was viewed. The publicity that Animal Liberation created caused immediate pressure on laws that allowed for the cruelty towards animals. Many people read Animal Liberation and became passionately involved in the cause of the humane treatment of animals.  Due to the commitment to this cause, in 1998, the European Union passed the Council Directive 98/58/EC.   This directive concerned the Protection of Animals Kept for Farming Purposes, which is based on a revised Five Freedoms: freedom from hunger and thirst; from discomfort; from pain, injury, and disease; from fear and distress. These Five Freedoms have now spread to the United States, and currently hundreds of major food suppliers, producers, and restaurants have signed on to the Five Freedoms.  The significance behind Singer’s work, revolves around his ability to empower a large audience to behave in a way that millions would benefit from. There is an incredible power behind learning, rather than being taught. Feeling as though you have come to a conclusion on your own, rather than being forced to that conclusion not only draws more to the movement, but also allows for stakeholders, representatives, and concerned members of society to have the power to embrace the cause.

Throughout the exploration I have made on behalf of the animal rights issue, the most influential changes so far in the treatment of animals are based on compassion for animals. In Simon Sinek’s design of the golden circle, he explains that when in pursuit of change, you must have passion, and a clear goal based on what you value, then strategize about ways to create eventual change. When considering how to address the treatment of farm animals in Vermont, I believe that the first step, is creating a compassionate connection between the mistreated animals in our community, and the members of the community. With a desire to seek solutions to a social issue, the next step consists of creating a comprehensive plan for the humane treatment of farm animals that follows the Five Freedoms. As many of the neighbors that I have talked to explained, the the main reason for the lack of progress in the movement to improve the treatment of farm animals in Vermont is ignorance, that people either build up around themselves, or true naiveté. As we can learn from many animal rights activists across the world, passionate social action can lead to real change in the lives of the millions of mistreated farm animals in this country.


Featured Image: FDR Presidential Museum and Library

Sinek, Simon. “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.” Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action | TED Talk, TEDx, Sept. 2015, www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.


Lena Ashooh

3 Responses to “#5 got compassion?

  • Lena,

    You make a great point about the commoditization implied by the “got milk” campaign! I love the idea of changing the script, rooting the “why” in quality and ethics, rather than mere consumption.

    I think you’re on to something with your comment about the power of learning (opposed to being taught). How might that understanding shape your project? How can you help people move toward a particular viewpoint without forcing them to draw the conclusion you want? It might be valuable to really dig into Singer’s book and explore why it was so effective. What techniques did he employ to lead people toward embracing his cause? I agree with your assessment that much of the animal rights movement has been inspired by compassion – but how do you inspire compassion for these animals, especially when many people’s compassion is firstly directed toward their struggling neighborhood farmers who are participating in this system out of economic necessity? I like how you’ve articulated your next steps, and I’m excited to see what ideas you come up with about how to generate compassion and move toward a system based on the Five Freedoms.

    Keep up the great work!

    – F

    • Hi Fallon,

      These are really great questions, and I think that you have really highlighted some of animal rights advocates biggest struggles. It is really easy to ignore some of the cruelty that happens on farms, especially when it is to terrible and graphic to understand. And when it feels like you are being targeted as someone involved in the industry. I’m definitely going to work towards promoting the audience to come to conclusions on their own, and feel like they are making decisions based on what they have learned or drawn, rather than being forced to feel a certain way.

      Thanks so much for your comment!

      Talk soon,

  • Hi Lena and Fallon,
    I’ve fallen a bit behind in my correspondence. I have to rush off to work now, but please know I’m out here, reading and catching up, and interested in how your thoughts are progressing, Lena.

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