There are so many issues and concerns plaguing our world today. There’s the Syrian refugee crisis, the rise of ISIS, the pervasiveness of opiates in our nation, election fallout, human trafficking, abortion, nuclear testing by North Korea, the national debt and on and on. Given all that is going on in the world, why do I bring attention to the plight of animals?
I am not going to argue here that animals are more important than any of the above issues. It’s not about what you feel is the single most important issue to you, but what is the single most important issue before you – one that has great impact and one you can actually take action on today. No other issue offers the same opportunity for you to concretely take positive personal action on today (except possibly abortion, but only if you happen to be pregnant today).
You can sit around and talk about the issues of the world with your friends, relatives and co-workers and think you are solving them. But you’re not necessarily solving anything because you don’t have that much control. You can staunchly hold your political viewpoint, support your candidates and vote when the opportunity presents itself. You can also decide to be more active and sign petitions, attend activist marches, call your representative or send money to support your causes. You can do all these things in hopes of - or with the expectation that - other people eventually will do what you want them to do to make the world a better place.
But today, you can make the world a better place. You can make the choice to inflict less harm, be kinder, and save a life. You can do all of this by deciding what to eat and what not to eat. That choice is completely in your control and has a deep and broad impact on your life, your society and the world at large.
In the United States alone, we kill animals for food at the rate of over a million an hour. I wish there was a way to make this humongous number sink in and have meaning.
Let me try this:
If we killed human beings at that rate, the people inhabiting the entire United States would all be dead in less than two weeks.
If that’s still too abstract, how about this:
At that rate of killing, if you live in the city of Chicago, you and your fellow Chicagoans would be dead in less than three hours.
But it doesn't stop. Because every three hours another population the size of Chicago is mercilessly decimated.
Does that give some perspective?
I hope you can see that this level of violence is staggering. Think of the energy that goes into that much killing. Think of the immense level of unnecessary, unwarranted and traumatic suffering of animals, who fight for their lives because just like us, they experience emotion and want to be free to live. Think of the shameful hardening of all those human hearts that are paid to be the fastest killing machines on earth. Think of their families who surely feel the effect of all that killing, or at least the hardened heart. You have to wonder, where does all that energy go?
It is a dark shadow looming over our lives. It is certainly not out there spreading good cheer in the world. Violence begets violence. And a good bit of it comes right back into our bodies when we eat the flesh of the beings who suffered and whose lives were blamelessly cut short. It is no wonder we are so anxious, hurtful to each other, and ill.
All of this begs the questions: Are we really the kind and thoughtful people that we think we are? Who are we that we would willfully cause so much suffering and inflict so much violence toward sentient beings who have done nothing to harm us? Where is our mercy? Are we not image and likeness of God? Is God not the power of Love Itself? Isn’t Love our true nature?
I believe that Love is our true nature. We learned this killing behavior from our parents. And they learned it from theirs, and so on. It is not natural behavior. No small child on her own would take a knife and slit the throat of a living animal standing before her. Rather, she would likely be curious, grin, and move closer to pet him. The innocence and curiosity of this child still lives within us and yearns to lead us to a more harmonious and light-filled life.
When we let the inner child lead us, we can instead direct our energies toward something much more enlivening and empowering, like authentic Kindness and Compassion. Think of how different our world would be if we stopped all this violence and replaced it with authentic Kindness and Compassion. The kind of Kindness and Compassion that respects every living being’s right to be treated like a some-one, and not a body with which we can do whatever we want.
Today you have an issue facing you that at first glance may not seem that important compared to all the other concerns of your day. But it is in fact the most important issue facing you today, because you have complete control to choose non-violence and make a difference now. When you choose Kindness and Compassion over killing, you bring greater peace to your life, to other beings, and to the planet.
Keep animal flesh off your plate and out of your body. Eat healthy plant-based food. And who knows? Maybe if enough of us make the choice to be Kind and Compassionate – bringing about a radical reduction in today’s suffering and violence - we will as a species regain our sense of value toward Life Itself. And the other issues just might take care of themselves.
© carol saunders 2017
Rev. Carol Saunders
I am an ordained minister, speaker, writer and lover of all life. In 2010 I founded a spiritual community in Deerfield, IL, a suburb of Chicago, and have recently transitioned it to a weekly interactive gathering and podcast called The Spiritual Forum. Being a voice for the animals and a light for the spiritually-inclined who are willing to seriously examine the self and begin to awaken, are what Spirit has called me to be. I am here to support anyone who wants to move toward living in closer alignment with their deeply held spiritual values. Our world needs more Love, Peace and Kindness. We can make that happen. But we won't be able to until we transform some of the violent and unkind ways of living we inherited from our culture. Be Love. Be Peace. Be Kind. Today.