Originally published in New York Spirit
I saw him in a shabby shop. All tied up. Even his mouth. Some men were torturing him. Deliberately hurting him. He was scared and in immense pain. I wanted to know how to save this poor soul from these butchers. Before I could understand who to call in this strange land, I saw blood bludgeoned all over. I felt the pain tearing me apart as I sat up. The dog’s face was haunting me. It took me a while to understand that it was a nightmare.
Seeing news of gruesome murders of stray dogs for no reason other than hatred had probably instigated the dream. Hitting them mercilessly, feeding them poison, attacking people who feed strays, lighting up their skins, celebrating festivals killing them, shooting innocents and boasting it as a trophy sport! What is the world coming to?
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
Can you see the greatness?
Greed, apathy, encroachment, ignorance and hatred has caused half of the flora and fauna to be on the verge of extinction. Scientists say that we are currently in the worst mass extinction period since the disappearance of the dinosaurs. Half of all living species could be gone within 100 years. Within the next 15 to 40 years it is likely that the following animals will become extinct: polar bear, chimpanzee, elephant, snow leopard, tiger, mountain gorilla, orangutan, giant panda, rhino, and the koala bear. These are just a few of many.
At such a frightening time, lifting the ban on Trophy Hunting by the U.S. government is appalling. The 2014 trophy ban reduced elephant deaths and ivory imports to the U.S. significantly. It is on the rise since the ban is lifted. Justifications given by trophy hunters that they are the conservationists is such a hogwash that I wonder why are they not in mental rehabilitation centers. The so-called revenue never reaches where it is supposed to. And even if it does, the statistics over the years are a harsh reality. Killing is never a way to conserve. How can someone kill a majestic creature for fun? Isn’t that sick?
Many anthrozoologists argue that childhood animal cruelty is a predictor of violence against humans later in their lives. In fact, many violent crime perpetrators have a history of animal cruelty in their profiles. However, the dark reality is that the statistics show that 30 percent of children who have witnessed domestic violence act out a similar type of violence against their pets. It is a vicious circle!
What is society lacking?
Empathy. The gift that was inherited by humans is sadly deteriorating at a serious rate. Not only animals and nature, but we have also become immune to human sufferings too.
We need to sow the seeds of empathy; inculcate it in kids and nurture it in adults.
Instill reading habits in kids. Storytelling sessions are very impactful. I remember the story of an ant who was drowning in a stream and a bird saved her by throwing a leaf in the water on which the ant climbed up. The silhouette of the story artwork is still etched in my mind. As a kid, it left a lasting impression on me. I began doing that to every ant I saw near water, struggling to find a way. More than two decades later, I still do that. I am sure many other youngsters have had the same positive effect on their minds.
What about adults who have disconnected from their true self?
Empathy Museum launched in the UK is a wonderful concept. They are running a program of Human Library where you borrow a person instead of a book – A living book. It has other such amazing concepts like ‘A Mile in my shoes’ where visitors can literally walk a mile in strangers’ shoes while hearing their story. Empathy Museum has a whole schedule of traveling to cities like New York, Scotland, Perth, Belgium and more.
Spend time in nature. You’re missing a whole lot if you don’t have time for that! Nature is such a great guru that it gives you wisdom without you asking for it. You sit in its lap and you will begin to see how the inner-self opens up. A connect with other sentient beings of this planet will occur naturally.
The world cannot be crime-free. Light and darkness both will exist. We are living in Kalyug where the balance might tilt towards the evil more. Yet, divine won’t ever dissolve. Let’s be human together. Let’s keep the flame of the divine ablaze within each other.
“When you feel the suffering of every living thing in your own heart, that is consciousness.” – Bhagvad Gita
May we all share miles in each others’ shoes!