All Lives Matter

by John Wesley

I have taken up the street animal cause here in Cairo, as you may know. (It has become a part-time job, really, since working from home.) I am in all the Facebook groups, and I’m in regular contact with the people on the front lines of the movement. I think at this point, I am even on the front lines. I am very ‘woke’ in this world.

A few days ago, someone posted a video of a kitten who had been hit by a car, and the person who posted it was hand-feeding the kitten as they filmed, and begging for advice on what to do. The comments that followed were pleas for people to act, and for those nearby (in the best positions to help) to do so quickly.

If you become part of this world, you will see an endless number of animals, literally a never-ending assembly line of heartbreak, and they are in varying degrees of distress and have an assortment of conditions. You will see dogs and cats with infections, deformities, and diseases; kittens and puppies requiring surgeries to save their eyes or their legs, animals who are full of worms or who have nasty wounds from fighting. It’s so, so overwhelming, and the obstacles to helping them all are impossible to overcome. They all need help, quickly, and there are simply not enough people who can help, who are available to help.

Some people donate money to the organizations who provide services. Some offer to foster. Some fundraise. Some offer their professional skills for free. Some people adopt the animals permanently. I do what I do, too, in my own way, but I never, ever feel like I’ve done enough.

What I don’t do is walk around my neighborhood deciding which animals are in the worst condition, or which ones are the hungriest, or the dirtiest, or which ones will probably bite me (all of them will), or which ones need the most attention the quickest. I don’t get to pick the animals who are the prettiest, or the friendliest, or the ones who will most easily be adopted, and I don’t get to decide which animals get to demand most of my attention. I just try to help them all. I do what I can, the moment I can, as fast as I can, for all the animals I can. I walk around the neighborhood almost everyday with heavy bags of food, water, gloves, antibiotic ointment, and tissues and gauze, and sometimes apples and carrots for pitiful-looking donkeys who shouldn’t be out in this heat. I never know what I might run across, so I try to be ready for almost anything.

And I guess that’s the best way I know how to explain why I believe in the All Lives Matter message more than I believe in anything else, as it applies to human beings. When people say it is a selfish stance to take, or that I am a huge jerk for believing this, or than I am being dismissive of people who need my help, or that I am in denial of my racial bias, or that I am being tone deaf, I just keep reminding myself that I’m doing ok. Like the animals who indiscriminately need my help, I am also multitasking within the human rescue shelter, too.

I do believe that black lives matter. Of course I do! And all the other ones do, too, to me, everyday. It’s not canned activism. I’m doing the work. I can handle more than one cause at a time. I can help more than one group at a time. I can get behind more than one movement at a time. We all can. If you have been criticized for stating that you also, *right now*, believe in the injustice other races, religions and cultures are experiencing, let me be the one to tell you that what you believe in is good, too. There is a place for all of us who want to help, in as many ways as we can.

I challenge you…Pick THREE causes you can get behind. Why limit yourself to just one? Friends, there are lots to choose from. For me…I am eyeballs deep with the street animals, I am very, very emotionally invested in fighting FGM here in Egypt, and I have decided to do much more to seek justice for Breonna Taylor. Three pretty important and diverse interests for an old American white lady, I think. Now…time to go see who needs me today.


About Dawn Quarles

Dawn Quarles is a high school political science and American history teacher who moonlights as a blogger and writer. She lives on Pensacola Beach, Florida.

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