Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Restoring Faith in Humanity: Our Compassion for Nature in Need

Video: People Helping Creatures - Compilation of people all over the world helping animals in trouble. 

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
~ Mohandas Gandhi*

We are inundated with bad news. Negative images, videos and stories highlighting the moral and ethical degeneration of our society are everywhere—particularly online. Bad news about how we treat animals, their ecosystems and the planet as a whole are no exception.

Depending on your own personal disposition, you may react to such negative impressions with sadness, disgust, anger, resentment, fear, feelings of unfairness and the like.  Conversely, you may respond to tragic events with compassion, courage and determination to take proactive, preventative action.

In terms of the latter, it is questionable just how effective the storm of bad news is in terms of motivating people to take action. After all, the internet is saturated with anti-globalization, anti-GMO, anti-fracking, anti-just-about-everything. And yet, the great multitude lumbers sideways…asleep.
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
~ Anatole France*

On that note, today Genesis shares the above video featuring people taking pity on animals in need. We feel positive images, feel-good stories, and videos featuring acts of courage, kindness and determination to take action are much more likely to touch people “on the fence” of complacency—by example.

It is only by the example of those choosing the high-road of altruism can people ascend from the status of Homo sapien—with all our cold animal instincts and hedonistic desires—to that of human being, with an awakened heart-mind, conscious, compassionate and courageous to always do right by others.
“If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.”
~ Francis of Assisi*

It just makes sense. These wise words from Francis of Assisi highlight a simple truth: one is hard-pressed to fully compartmentalize one’s own psyche such that one may subject one group of creatures to an appalling standard of treatment while applying a completely different standard to others.

With Homo sapiens sorely lacking such awareness and discipline over our heart-minds, it is most likely what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Heartless, cold, selfish behavior, no matter when, where or at whom it is indulged, becomes an indelible mark on our personality and will more often than not rear its ugly head even against those we profess to love, despite our best intentions.

Treat nature, animals poorly? Sooner or later you will treat people just as poorly.
“The indifference, callousness and contempt that so many people exhibit toward animals is evil first because it results in great suffering in animals, and second because it results in an incalculably great impoverishment of the human spirit.”
~ Ashley Montagu*

Can’t get along with animals? Why is that? Do you find them frightening? Dirty? Annoying? A menace? How do animals respond to you, in general? With fear? Hostility? Indifference? How does that make you feel? Or, could you care less? How we relate to animals can tell us a lot about ourselves.
“An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.”
~ Martin Buber* 

Image by Genesis: Chipmunk smiles for the camera after accepting a peanut; in Kilarney Provincial Park.

Whatever the case, if you relate poorly to animals (or nature in general), you might want to take stock of your relationships—family, friends, lovers, co-workers, even strangers on the street. Are your interactions with others as satisfying and rewarding as they could be?
“I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being.”
~ Abraham Lincoln*

In the final analysis, it’s about treating animals better than our own base animal instincts would have us do. By rising above our own animal selves, showing pity and compassion for those creatures we observe having little—and treat as deserving even less—we truly earn the right to call ourselves human beings.

And becoming a true human being is a critical step to experiencing reality as whole person: truly happy, free and at peace in the universe:

“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us the ‘Universe’, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.”
~ Albert Einstein*
Image: “Look deep into nature and you will understand everything better” ~ Albert Einstein

* Quotes Sourced from helpingk9s.com: Compassion for Animals – Quotes – from Famous People

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