I have 16 piercings on my face & body; I can reach any spot on my back without assistance (useful for zipping up my own dresses or if I get an itchy spot); I'm a whiz at driving backward (and forward too, just so there's no confusion); I was a dancer in the opening ceremony for the World Cup of soccer in 1995 here in Chicago
Human intelligence doesn't give us the right to exploit other species; rather, it gives us a moral obligation to care for them to the best of our ability, both as individuals and in groups.
What Gives Me Hope
Every single one of you that feels the way I do about how animals should - and should not - be treated gives me great hope.
If I were Mayor, I'd make the world a better place by
adopt and sign into law a policy of "live and let live" regarding humans and our treatment of all animals, including each other; then I'd oversee the creation and execution of strategies for restoring the health of our planet, immediately rescuing and providing care for every animal in trouble (or absolutely as many as possible), and bringing to justice all the worst, most violent, and most dangerous abusers of animals to the fullest extent of the law.
What/who changed my life and why
In my school days it was the book "Animal Liberation" by Peter Singer. What a revelation that I'd finally found someone who felt the way I had since birth about animal rights & moral equality! More recently I discovered the film "Earthlings," which is the single most powerful, informative, relevant, comprehensive and moving film about the truth of the human/animal relationship. I also have enormous love and respect for Jane Goodall, Ingrid Newkirk (PETA), and many others who are giving (or have given) their entire lives to the AR cause.
"I saw deep in the eyes of the animals the human soul look out upon me. I saw where it was born deep down under feathers and fur, or condemned for a while to roam four-footed among the brambles. I caught the clinging mute glance of the prisoner and swore that I would be faithful." --Henry David Thoreau
"I am the voice of the voiceless; through me the dumb shall speak, 'til the deaf world's ears be made to hear the wrongs of the wordless weak. And I am my brother's keeper, and I will fight his fights, and speak the words for beast and bird 'til the world shall set things right." --Ella Wheeler Wilcox