For the first 15 years of her life, Rae Sikora ate meat with impunity.
“I was eating it every day,” says the activist and ethical vegan. “I never connected the dots.”
Everything changed 43 years ago during an exchange with a clerk at a leather store. That day changed the animal lover forever.
Since then, Sikora has traveled the world advocating for animal protection, human rights, and environmental preservation, and trained others.
Her speech, “Normalized Violence: The Global Impact of our Daily Choices,” will be at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 30 in the Alumni Recitation Hall, Room 302.
“I help people clarify who and what they care about and assist them with bringing their daily choices into alignment with their values — regardless of what society is telling them,” Sikora says.
Sarina Farb ’16, a biological chemistry major with a concentration in policy studies, met Sikora at Vegetarian Summerfest, and has known the activist for years. Farb says Sikora’s messages fit in with Grinnell’s emphasis on social justice, self-governance, and personal responsibility.
“This approach to social justice is the essence of Rae's works. However she deepens this by shedding light on the normalized violence in our every day lives which is inconsistent with the compassion and non-violence that we all embrace,” Farb says. “Listening to Rae will inspire and empower individuals that care about creating a more just world to take the next step and extend notions of non-discrimination beyond our own species.”
Sikora describes her work as helping people create a non-violent society.
“Nobody thinks about the violence toward another species or that the way we’re treating the planet is violence.”
Most recently, Sikora designed a curriculum for non-violent humane education in the Middle East that has now been translated into Arabic, Hebrew, and Spanish, and is being taught in Egypt.
“We each as individuals have so much power to create a compassionate world, and I don’t think we see that power,” Sikora says.