There will be a day when generations to come look back on us and wonder how we could have ever allowed all the suffering. They will look at us in the same way we look at the slave owners of the 1800’s or the Holocaust perpetrators and all the people who remained silent about it. How did people sit idly by when all this violence was going on? How could they not see? Why did they not act?
A few years ago I was listening to UnityFM radio. The radio show host and his guest were both bright scholarly teachers and they were discussing the gay marriage movement. They acknowledged that this last barrier was on the brink of breaking. At the close of the program the host posed a question to his listeners: “What do you think is the next moral barrier to be broken that we cannot yet see?”
I knew the answer to this! I could see it as clearly as Mt. Everest on a bright sunny day! The next barrier to be broken was the animal-human boundary. I immediately sent off an email to the show host with my answer. I was so excited to be in this dialogue with a person who in my eyes, was a spiritual giant.
His response took me completely aback. It was surprisingly dismissive.
He replied that what I was suggesting will never happen, that eating animals has been a part of human history from the very beginning - like fire - and it will always be a part of our culture.
It was a most peculiar response coming from a spiritual teacher whose radio show that day was focused on breaking historical cultural boundaries! The justification he put forth was 'history' as if history was something to which we were bound. Since when did history ever serve as a justification for anything? Slavery, child neglect/abuse/labor, domination/exclusion of women, segregation of races, alienation of homosexuals, etc. were also ‘always a part of human history.’ That is, until we awakened and saw their horrific nature. Then we changed.
What I saw that day was a very bright, spiritually accomplished person who couldn’t see that he couldn’t see.
And many years from now, people will wonder how it was that we as a people, were not able to see what is so obviously clear to them: being the cause of another being’s suffering because you want to, just isn’t okay.
Change in collective consciousness is slow. It usually starts with a small minority out in front doing what they can to point out injustices, immoralities, inequities and harmful behaviors. These few people are generally made fun of by the majority. They are marginalized and their voices are squelched and belittled. Or if they are in the spiritual arena like I am, they may be acknowledged for ‘sharing their personal truth,’ as if choosing to be kind or to not take the life of another is a personal truth.
But the thought leaders keep on. If their cause is one that will bring a higher level of ethics into the world - more Goodness, Kindness, Fairness and Love - then the message begins to spread. A few more people start to resonate with it. Those who resonate convert to the new ethics. They then join the voice for change and the sound gets stronger. Eventually it reaches a tipping point, and consciousness – along with what is considered socially acceptable or unacceptable – changes.
We saw this with the Abolitionists during the Civil War. We saw this with the Suffragettes in the late 19th century. We saw this with the Freedom Riders during the Civil Rights Movement. And we saw this recently with the shift to legalize gay marriage.
And we will see this table turn for the non-human animals. We will see it!
Consciousness will change because wherever there is a cultural and personal shift toward creating a world of less harm, less suffering, less fear, less anxiety, and more love, move compassion, more care, more freedom, the Universe smiles and lights the path to its full expression.
Sometimes that shift is abrupt. Much more often it takes a long time. The time it takes isn’t our business. We must keep doing what we do, anchored in Compassion and Freedom. We are the ones. We must keep speaking. Even if we are speaking into what seems like an infinite, bleak tunnel of darkness; even if our friends or family turn away from us; even if we find ourselves in challenging or embarrassing situations; even though every day of our lives we must navigate through the violent world that we so deeply yearn to change. We must speak for as long as it takes. The animals need our Voice. Know that all the angels of Goodness are behind us, because we are a movement of Peace, Kindness and Compassion.
It’s very simple really. It’s much simpler than the movements to free slaves, give women the vote, end racial segregation or legalize gay marriage, because we can act without anyone else having to do anything.
We don’t need to wait for any big move to be made by our government. We don’t need to wait for any new law to be legislated. We don’t need to wait for Big Ag and the food companies to change their ways. We can simply choose differently, spend differently, invest differently and eat and clothe ourselves differently. By our personal actions today, we can stop being the cause of another’s suffering.
It comes down to this: in all the situations where you have the personal power to act, do less harm; do more good. Refrain from killing or being the cause of killing anyone or anything, unless you absolutely need to for your own survival. You don’t want to be abused or eaten, so avoid abusing or eating others. Non-human animals are sentient according to 2500 studies. They have rich emotional lives with the capacity to suffer and feel empathy. They want to live. They are complex social beings, not things. Let them have the freedom to be who they were created to be. Treat them how you want to be treated.
Start today. And perhaps future generations will be proud of us.
"It is man's sympathy with all creatures that first makes him truly a man." Albert Schweitzer, Nobel Peace Prize winner 1952
© carol saunders 2016
Thank you for listening. If you are moved to do less harm or be in action to cause less suffering, here are a few resources (or check out the resources at the end of any of my blogs):
Rev. Carol Saunders
I am an ordained Unity and Interfaith minister, speaker, writer and lover of all life. In 2010 I founded a spiritual community in Deerfield, IL, a suburb of Chicago, and led it through mid-2021. In my current ministry I host a 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 - i.e. sovereignty, freedom, love, peace and kindness. We have the power to change our world by changing ourselves. A first step is identifying and releasing all the cultural conditioning that normalizes cruelty and violence. Be Love. Be Peace. Be Kind. Today.
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