To the editor:
Thank you for printing a recent letter outlining PETA’s plan to offer discarded fur coats and hot cocoa at Washington, D.C., homeless shelters during the inauguration celebration. Apparently the coats will be marked to discourage resale, and the cups will bear a PETA slogan.
The letter’s author strongly expressed his disapproval that PETA would “take advantage of other human beings” in this way to publicize their desire to end needless suffering.
I agree that it is not entirely magnanimous of PETA to offer individuals in need of a coat the cruel practical choice between no coat and one that a compassionate person would not wish to wear. At least in marking the furs, PETA is also offering each of them the opportunity to identify themselves as someone who can’t afford to choose, rather than as someone who could and did.
But in fact, PETA has unwanted coats, and there are people who need coats. In a more ideal world, they would give them quietly, without fanfare. In a truly ideal world, neither PETA nor fur coats would exist, because everyone’s heart would already be open, not only to “other human beings” but to life in all its forms.
Meanwhile, my hope is that as individuals, a community, and a nation we can all find inspiration in this inauguration and in the future to focus less on our differences and more on our similarities, and to give generously of what we have to those who may have need of it.