Thanksgiving can be a bittersweet holiday for those of us who view our fellow animals as friends, not food. While there is much to be grateful for, and while it is nourishing to be in the company of our closest friends and family, it is also painful knowing that in most American households, this week's festivities will feature the lifeless body of a turkey as the centerpiece of the celebration.
However, this year there will be more people than ever before creating new Thanksgiving traditions based on compassion and respect for all beings. And for that, we should all be thankful. This trend is just one point on a trajectory toward a more enlightened future -- a new era when people will look back on our current society and ask how we could ever have done such terrible things to billions of our fellow animals merely because they happened to be members of a different species. Indeed, it seems inevitable that future generations will find it all astonishing, just as we now find it hard to comprehend how people in past eras were comfortable dominating, exploiting, and even killing the members of various groups of their fellow humans.
But how do we get from where we are now to a future in which all living beings are valued and protected? We asked ourselves this question many times while working on Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home, especially when we felt overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the injustice we were seeking to expose. Our goal was to create a film that would go beyond changing attitudes and be capable of fostering a true paradigm shift. To this end, we sought insight and inspiration from many sources, including the liberation movements of the past.
One individual who captured our imaginations was the social justice artist Harriet Beecher Stowe. In 1852, when few women writers were published, and when the institution of slavery was deeply entrenched in almost every aspect of society, she gave us Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a groundbreaking book that completely transformed the public dialogue on slavery -- not just in the US, but in countries all over the world.
Few people today realize that during the era Uncle Tom’s Cabin was written, most educators and moral leaders did not publicly challenge the institution of slavery. If slavery was addressed at all in a Sunday sermon, for example, the focus tended to be on the need to practice it in as "Christian” a manner as possible. The idea of abolishing slavery was considered radical, unrealistic, divisive, and even dangerous. The fact is, at that time, the number of people openly advocating for abolition was relatively small, and those brave visionaries who spoke out were often publicly shunned, even while many privately agreed with their sentiments.
However, this seemingly hopeless situation for the enslaved people of America and for the abolitionists who were trying to help them was turned around in less than the span of one human lifetime.
And how was it done? First, taking their lead from the successful English antislavery movement, American activists relentlessly documented and exposed the horrific violence and injustice, awakening the conscience of millions. Then, educators and artists like Harriet Beecher Stowe used the power of storytelling to invite people from all walks of life to more deeply consider the emotional experience of enslaved individuals, how they suffered when their families were torn apart, how their fates were thrown to the wind based on their value as "property," how they were mercilessly abused and even killed at the whims of their "owners."
With Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Stowe put the moral problems of slavery into the form of a story anyone could relate to, making it the subject of public debate and dinner-table discussion across the world. At the same time, Frederick Douglass, a charismatic orator who had escaped enslavement, stunned audiences in both the US and Europe with his evident brilliance, obliterating generations of ignorance and pre-conceived notions. Notably, Douglass's message of justice was all-inclusive, extending to women, Native Americans, recent immigrants, and any other population struggling against oppression and discrimination.
Overcoming deeply-entrenched prejudices is a core element of transforming a socially-accepted injustice. But as Stowe, Douglass, and others have taught us, advocating for justice is not only about exposing what is wrong. It is equally about exploring who we might become, the knowledge we might gain, the joy we might know, if things were right. It is about what we might create when our hearts and minds are freed from the shackles of prejudice, which rob us all of our true potential.
With that in mind, please enjoy our newly released video, "The Artist as Activist." During this Thanksgiving holiday, it is our message of gratitude to visionaries past and present, and to our community, whose kindness and commitment to working toward a just and nonviolent future keeps us motivated in all that we do.
James LaVeck and Jenny Stein
Filmmakers and co-founders of Tribe of Heart
Dr. Don Radio Show highlights Peaceable Kingdom film
In this lively, wide-ranging, 40-minute interview with Dr. Don, filmmakers James LaVeck and Jenny Stein discuss a number of topics in depth, including:
- The fragmentation and damage experienced by farm kids who are required to betray the very animals they have nurtured, and the courage it takes to heal these wounds.
- The responsible use of investigative footage, and the thought process behind choosing what to show and what not to show in a film addressing a grievous injustice.
- The mistaken ideas and prejudices that are used to rationalize the commodification of others, and what we gain when we overcome them.
Dr. Don, who is board certified in emergency room medicine and family practice, is also a dedicated health educator and advocate for peaceful change. His radio show approaches wellness from a holistic perspective, exploring topics that range from what supports and heals the physical body to our ethical obligations to those affected by our choices, including members of other species. We were honored to be guests on his show, and greatly appreciate how he has chosen to use his skills and talents in service of the greater good.
Five ways you can put
your compassion into action!
1. View or share Tribe of Heart films with friends, family members, and co-workers
Sharing our films one-to-one or with a small group of people is a rewarding experience, one that provides a great opportunity to awaken new understanding as well as learn from others. This guide offers some helpful advice that can increase the value of the experience for all involved.
2. Post about our films on blogs, discussion boards, and email lists
Because Tribe of Heart films and educational programs explore timely subjects such as nonviolence, the journey of awakening conscience, and the ethics of the human-animal relationship, they provide almost unlimited opportunities for blogging, discussion boards, and email lists. Here are some suggestions
3. Donate our DVDs to those who can put the film to good use
Person-to-person sharing is one of the most effective forms of working for change, and one of the most rewarding. Check out our step-by-step guide, including donation ideas. And if you order a 10 pack of half-priced DVDs by Dec. 31st, shipping is free to anywhere in the world!
Many people have donated copies of Tribe of Heart films to libraries in their area, and the rate of use of those copies has been very high. Learn more about how to reach out to your local library here.
4. Host a screening in your community
By holding public screenings of Tribe of Heart films, hundreds of people all over the world have already seen that their efforts can transform individual lives, and that they can contribute toward many of the larger-scale changes that are most needed in our troubled world. Venues for these screenings have ranged from small cafes and community centers, to public libraries and college classrooms, to international conferences and arts festivals, to movie theaters and auditoriums seating audiences of several hundred. Check out our extensive resources that will help you get started planning your life-changing event!
5. Make a financial contribution or volunteer your professional skills
Tribe of Heart currently has an abundance of high-leverage opportunities for sharing our work in new languages and cultures, but we are limited by a shortfall of financial support. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation today, which will help us reach more people with the life-changing message of our current films, while also enabling us to commence work on new documentaries and educational projects that will inspire peaceful transformation in communities all over the world.
If you have specialized knowledge and expertise you'd like to offer in film distribution, fundraising, language translation, event planning, social media, or other areas that will help us propagate our films and educational projects, we'd love to hear from you. Please contact us.
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Peaceable Kingdom now on iTunes in 5 languages
You can now rent ($2.99) or buy ($14.99)
Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home on iTunes.
Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home
Reino Apacible: El Camino a Casa
Royaume pacifique: Le chemin du cœur
Reich des Friedens: Der Weg nach Hause
Reino Pacífico: A Jornada rumo ao Lar
We hope these special offers will make it easier for you to share our films during the holiday season. These deals will be in place through Dec. 31, 2013.
Buy two DVDs, get one free!
3 DVDs for just $40. Buy now
This holiday season, give the gift of compassion. The DVD for Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home includes the 78-minute film plus 90 additional minutes of mini-documentaries. All content is available with subtitles in English (SDH), Spanish, French, and Portuguese.
Buy both our DVDs,
get two free medium-sized posters!
A $45 value for just $25
Includes DVDs for Peaceable Kingdom:
The Journey Home and The Witness, plus an 11" x 17" poster of each film.
Buy a 10 pack of half-priced DVDs, get free shipping, anywhere in the world!
$100 for 10 DVDs of Peaceable Kingdom
$75 for 10 DVDs of The Witness
For gift giving and sharing the film with people and groups in your community
Transformation in Tucson
For those who wonder what motivates us to spend years of our lives bringing the message of our films to audience after audience, our experience with the Tucson premiere of Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home provides an answer.
Photo by James Reed
We have always seen our work as serving not only the viewers of our films, but also those who wish to educate others about the important issues these films explore. Ben Braman is just this kind of person. He had a vision of bringing a deeper level of animal consciousness to his community, and in partnership with the Healthy You Network and its team of volunteers, he helped organize the Tucson premiere. He and HYN then carried out a publicity campaign for the event that was so successful, a 500-seat theater was not only filled to capacity, but beyond, with over 100 people ending up being directed to an encore screening held a couple of weeks later.
Photo by James Reed
The atmosphere after the screening was electrifying. The audience was engaged and fully focused on the message of the film. Consider the depth and breadth of change reflected in their written comments below, and that the experience that inspired this response lasted less than two hours. In just two hours, hundreds of minds were opened and hearts uplifted.
The variety of insights is inspiring, as is the fact that out of hundreds of comments collected, the majority of them expressed gratitude for the viewing experience. No matter where someone was in their journey, the film seemed to inspire them to go further. Meat eaters spoke of giving up meat, vegetarians spoke of becoming vegan, and vegans spoke of wanting to become more active and involved in making change happen. We see this a great deal from our audiences, which is ultimately a very hopeful sign.
For those of us involved in making and distributing Tribe of Heart films, and for our grassroots partners who bring them to their communities, the words of individual audience members leave no doubt that our efforts together are worthwhile, and that the human capacity for moral awakening is so much greater than most of us realize.
Tucson Audience Comments
It was a very compassionate and wonderful portrait of the side of the animals that need our protection. I am sad to say that I had become unsensitized to what it meant to eat animals – that only certain animals were the ones to be loved. Tomorrow I go vegan. My optimum goal: to see how I can be an advocate for all animals.
“Those who think they are crazy enough to change the world, are the ones that do.” This story has inspired me to help change the world, even in the smallest way. I will help. Thank you.
This was a beautiful film about not only the human spirit but also the raw truth of how off track we have gone. It was the hardest “foody” movie I have seen... But it is necessary for us to see the truth of what is going on behind the scenes. Thank you for opening our eyes.
Beautifully presented and enlightening. I have to rethink my eating – can’t have it both ways. Thank you for making it impossible for me to justify my lifestyle.
So glad I had the opportunity to see the film, and I can say with certainty that it has changed me.
I thought it was a beautiful production. It has given me a new perspective. I will start looking into my lifestyle to try and make changes.
Amazing! What an eye opener! Really makes me want to rethink my decisions.
I’ve been a vegetarian for 27 years but haven’t made the final step to veganism. I think after seeing your film I will be able to do that. Such an emotional film – very sad/very happy. Every meat eater should have to view it.
Thought provoking. I will be eating less meat.
Great presentation – I am a new convert!
It scared the daylights out of me! But… it was very very touching and I will never eat meat again. I love cows, goats, sheep, pigs and chickens. I have 4 bunnies and 6 chickens. I’m 11, in 6th grade.
Edited very sensitively, and got the message across without sensationalizing it. Well done! Also, I went to veterinary school in Scotland, which is a very agricultural nation, and so much of my coursework revolved around farm animals and their treatments, including working for a week in an abattoir. I feel your depiction of farmers in this film was not aggressive… Very compassionate film without being “preachy.” Food for thought. Thank you very much!
This film has convinced me that eating flesh is cruel. I’ve given up beef and pork for 3-1/2 years now – as of tonight, I vow to stop eating any other flesh. Animals are beautiful! Thank you so much!
Beautiful film. Loved seeing people who listened to their hearts whatever the cost.
I’m actually struggling emotionally to write well so let me thank you. This has changed me for the better.
I am a meat eater but now I will reassess my needs for meat. Thank you for showing a well rounded view... It is the “time of no secrets.”
Thanks for making this film. Although I have seen Food, Inc., etc., so far I can’t seem to stop eating all meat. Gave up lamb, pork and veal long ago, but still eat chicken. Guess I’ll have to look up vegan diets and stop eating ALL meat. Hope you continue to take this awareness to everyone.
The entire universe should view this film – this should be put out in schools and humane societies.
Very powerful film. Gave me pause about eating another egg. Thank you so much.
This was a great movie. This movie made me realize that animals are part of my community and that everybody should treat animals much better.
Amazing. I want everyone I know to see this. I’m already personally a vegan, but you’ve inspired me to do much more.
This movie is a game changer! I’m going from veggie to vegan. Thank you so much for being so brave!
Most of these issues are often at the edge of my consciousness, but it’s films like yours that can bring it to the front. A few years ago after watching “Forks Over Knives” I changed my diet, and I think I might change again now. These issues are really difficult, but it’s also really difficult when so many people willfully ignore them because it’s more convenient. Thanks for the showing, it takes time and many wake up calls to change individuals and society, so thank you for persevering
I have been slowly moving closer to eating meat after decades not eating it. I will stop at this point and return to full vegetarian with joy. Thank you!
The best film I’ve ever seen.
I have been aware of animal cruelty – I am vegetarian and moving towards being vegan. Your film inspired me to follow my core principles and truly become vegan.
This is an incredibly important film. Thank you for being part of the solution towards peace.
I was happy to watch this movie. It’s good to expose what happens. Most people don’t know what happens. More movies need to be like this. Although I eat meat, this will make me think twice. Thank you.
I liked and resonated with the message of kindness, compassion, mercy, friendship and joy and unconditional love as the journey to life – at least a life well-lived.
As a fourth generation farm kid, this film showed me that my picture of the way animals are cared for is not accurate now. Way different.
Loved it for the heartfelt respect for the individual animals, the people, the photography, the music, the message… Great work!
I will never be able to view chicken, beef or lamb unconsciously again. Thank you for enlightening me.
I feel strongly about not eating animals but not strong enough so I guess I needed to see this… It was very good – well done.
This film totally created a new awareness about a subject that most people know nothing about. The film was very professionally created and extremely informative. Loved the folks who gave testimony in the film.
I found the film uplifting… The talk about unconditional love was the focal point for me.
Thank you for opening my eyes to something that touched me deeply.