In southern California, at least, it can be a brutal experience to go to an animal shelter, where overcrowding gives the residents a scant few days to live. I had last been to a shelter a decade ago, after one of our cats vanished. (We never found her.) I went last weekend because it was time to add more cats to the family. I wish I could have rescued all of the horrifyingly vast number of 5-, 10-, 15-year old dogs and cats I saw there, who have no clue how their lives took this terrible turn – and who have so little hope of adoption.
The death camp atmosphere in the shelters is not as pronounced as it was a decade ago. I believe that is thanks to the large number of dedicated shelter volunteers – who offset the effects of budget cuts – and because of a grassroots, growing, no-kill movement. There are folks who provide foster homes to dogs, cats, rabbits, and others, to buy them more time than the shelters can give them. In fact, some of the animals stay in foster homes for years. There have always been foster homes but the number and the network of them has increased considerably over the last decade. Another populist movement to appreciate!
Thank you to all the foster homes!
I have always been a populist.
Populist: represented or connected with the ideas and opinions of ordinary people. (Cambridge)
Populist: a believer in the rights, wisdom, or virtues of the common people. (Merriam-Webster)
(Actually those definitions seem distinct and different to me – and there is a separate issue about how I balance populism with curmudgeonry – but don’t let me distract myself.)
How do I know I am a populist? As a film student, I wrote my thesis on Frank Capra’s populist masterpiece Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Watching an interview, I’d rather hear from the man-on-the-street than a celebrity. And so forth.
This is such an exciting time to be a populist – consider just these few examples of ways that populist movements are changing our world:
- The Occupy kids started discussions that now infuse mainstream politics.
- The Arab Spring is still toppling governments.
- Self-published books have an escalating share of the publishing industry.
- Open-source software expands coding in so many directions.
- Popularity bred by browser clicks has become so important that people now tout their expertise with “viral marketing”.
- And – sustaining all the above and more – social media give voice and influence to everybody.
I can’t wait to see what comes next.
P.S. What else should be on my list?