Tag: hope

My Prayer for Humans on Behalf of Animals

My hope is that we can navigate through this world with the grace and integrity of those who most need our protection.

May we have the sense of humor and liveliness of the goats; may we have the maternal instincts and protective nature of the hens and the sassiness of the roosters.

May we have the gentleness and strength of the cattle and the wisdom, humility, and serenity of the donkeys.

May we appreciate the need for community as do the sheep and choose our companions as carefully as do the rabbits.

May we have the faithfulness and commitment to family of the geese, the adaptability and affability of the ducks.

May we have the intelligence, loyalty, and affection of the pigs and the inquisitiveness, sensitivity, and playfulness of the turkeys.

My hope is that we can learn from the animals what we need to become better people.

May it be so.

Please feel free to share this text, share any of the graphics on your social media pages, or print either version of the PDF. One is titled A Prayer for Humans; one is titled A Hope for Humans.

PDF: Prayer for Humans on Behalf of Animals

PDF: Hope for Humans on Behalf of Animals

I’m An Animal Advocate. And I Have Hope.

I’ve been an animal advocate for more than 25 years, and I see enough cruelty every day to have a pretty bleak view of the world: And yet, I have hope.  No, I’m not a mythical creature. No, I’m not delusional, and yes, I’m paying attention. So much so that I’m quite aware, for instance, that in the U.S. every year, over 9 billion animals are brought into this world only to be killed for human consumption. Elephants are killed in their homes for their tusks. And wild animals face the consequences of global warming.

And yet, I have hope. I have hope because…well, you’ll just have to listen! 

  1. Listen on KQED’s website
  2. Listen to the audio below
  3. Watch the video with audio attached. 

In any case, please share. I think animal advocates and vegans need to hear this message more than ever. 

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Why I’m Hopeful (Even Though It’s Cooler to Be Hopeless)

People ask me all the time how I stay so hopeful. The answer is two fold:

1) because there is much to be hopeful about
2) because I dwell on solutions rather than problems

Yes, there is much work to do, but: 

*I live in a Democratic country, and I exercise all of the powers and privileges that affords me. I can criticize elected officials, I can vote them out, I can help others vote, and I can start a political action committee (like I did — East Bay Animal PAC) to help elect animal-friendly officials. 

*I live at a time when, yes, technology makes it possible to mechanize animals’ lives, confine billions of individuals at a time, and systematically slaughter them. But I also live at a time when technology can help end that. 

*I live within a system where I have the choice to purchase cruelty-free products from a wide-range of companies and innovators. I have the freedom to buy what I want and reject what I don’t want. 

*I spend my time with the most compassionate, intelligent, committed people I know — dedicated to solutions for a brighter future and to experiencing a beautiful present. I’m grateful to be surrounded by the most incredible people I get to call my friends — and husband. 

*I read about what’s wrong, but I focus on the agency I have to make things right. I also read about what has improved. I believe in progress. It’s not all bad out there, though the media and cranky pessimists certainly paint that picture. 

*I see beauty all around me all the time in everything I do and in everywhere I go. In my husband, in nature, in animals, in friends, in wildlife, in perfections, in imperfections.

And because of that, I am hopeful — unapologetically and unabashedly. 

Are You Writing the Future for Animals?

I recently returned from a dream trip to Rwanda seeing mountain gorillas, golden monkeys, and chimpanzees — all of whom are threatened due to human activity. But still I have hope.

Afterwards, we saw lions, giraffes, impalas, warthogs, ostriches, hippos, zebras, and elephants in Botswana, a country that banned trophy hunting but is still dealing with poaching. But still I have hope. In fact, we were in Botswana when we heard the news that China is banning the legal trade in ivory, which is a thing to celebrate although the work is not done. It never is.

Even as I stood awe-struck looking at the animals characterized as “exotic,” I thought of the animals in my Oakland backyard—the ones considered mundane—the deer, the squirrels, the foxes, opossums, raccoons, skunks, crows, and jays. Rather than pay to view them, people pay to eradicate them, but nonetheless, they’re valuable to me, to themselves, to the entire ecosystem.

I thought of our state’s coyotes, mountain lions, and wolves—all of whom are demonized by private ranchers who use public land to graze their livestock, then blame the predators for being who they are.

I thought of our nation’s animals, who will be negatively impacted if the current administration makes good on its promises to support fossil fuels, curtail plans to cut carbon emissions, withdraw from the Paris Agreement, construct oil pipelines, dismantle the Endangered Species Act, and build a wall that will impact the lives and migratory habits of native species.

And still I have hope. While I daily urge our federal congresswomen and congressmen to pass legislation that protects animals and reject legislation that harms them, we have much work to do on a state and local level, both of which can get neglected when our fears are focused on an animal-, environment-, and human-hostile White House.

I have hope because possibility dwells in uncertainty. The darkness that lies before us is not inevitably bleak; it’s just unwritten. And we are its authors. We have a future to write—for the animals near and the animals far. For the human and the non-human animals. And I intend to write it.

Will you join me?

The Past Gives Me Hope for the Future

When people ask who inspires me, I often say that my main inspirations are the animals — who can show grace and forgiveness after enduring trauma and abuse. And that’s true. Or I say that my inspiration is you — and everyone else who comes to my work with an open mind and heart. And that’s true, too. But I think people who ask are looking for something more specific. So, I’ll tell you.

The past. Nothing gives me more hope for the future than the past.

When facing the darkest times individually or collectively, one thing we can be certain of is that we’ve been here before and we’ve been through worse. In our collective consciousness or in our individual experience (or both), we’ve been through sadness, disappointment, war, upheaval, conflict, fear, grief, loss, uncertainty, dictatorship, bigotry, and divisiveness.

[Tweet “When facing dark times, we can be certain we’ve been here before and we’ve been through worse.”]

With each age that passes, we gain both wisdom and amnesia. We seem to learn a little and make some progress until myopia prevails, and then we forget that we’ve been here before. But just a glance at the past reveals the human condition in all its radiant splendor and darkest malevolence.

The resilience we possess to endure, weather, and learn from adversity is incredible (and it’s not unique to humans); it’s also something we can experience vicariously. Just knowing someone else has faced the same challenges, the same odds, the same mistakes can give us comfort. “You are not alone” can be the most healing words.

We are not alone. The ghosts of the past — yours, mine, theirs, recent, immediate, ancient — dwell among us and have wisdom to impart. So, yes, strangely, I embrace the fact that avaricious, megalomaniacal, narcissistic people have come before us, because if we disavow who we’ve been, we forget who we are. We. Humans.

[Tweet “If we disavow who we’ve been, we forget who we are.”]

Historians certainly give us the gift of hindsight; sages give us the gift of insight; together they work in harmony. Everyone needs a sage, and for several years now, mine has been Lao Tzu via his ancient text, the Tao Te Ching: A New English Version (Perennial Classics), written around 2,400 years ago. Thousands of years later, his book demonstrates, and our human experience is the same. Our needs, fears, flaws, and foibles remain the same. That doesn’t make me despair; it gives me comfort, it makes me humble (and it also makes me laugh).

For me, no other text or philosophy of living resonates more than the Tao Te Ching, summarized perfectly by poet Stephen Mitchell, the interpreter of my favorite translation:

“A classic manual on the art of living, written in a style of gemlike lucidity, radiant with humor and grace and large-heartedness and deep wisdom: one of the wonders of the world.”

[Tweet “Historians give us the gift of hindsight; sages give us the gift of insight.”]

May you find your sage, engage with the past, absorb, learn, and repeat. It’s true, as poet and philosopher George Santayana observed, that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” but the first part of that maxim is equally true and rarely quoted: “Progress…depends on retentiveness. When experience is not retained, infancy is perpetual.” 

Here’s to adulthood.

 

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