Man looking out over body of water - Image by Clément Falize

 Reflections

These 12 Reflections are refreshed monthly.

Click here to see archived Reflections from previous months.

It is clear that we must persevere without a break in our concern for all the human beings who are suffering, who are tortured, violated, and deprived of their rights in many countries throughout the world. But that should not hold us back in the least from turning our awareness to the abuses to which we subject animals … Seeing immense value in human life should not bring us to reduce to nothing the value of animal life. 

From A Plea for the Animals by Matthieu Ricard, writer, photographer and Buddhist monk

Agitate for the perfect while working for the possible. The world is not perfectible, but it is infinitely improvable. 

 

We cannot go from the basement to the penthouse in a single bound. We must make the climb one step at a time. Each small success becomes the platform from which we can pursue the next success. In the end, we will reach the goal that we could not reach all at once. 

 

If we refuse to accept partial, interim solutions because they are less than the ideal, the ideal will remain trapped forever within our imaginations, where it is of no help to anyone. 

 

Suffering Matters … The one thing we should not do is turn our back on the most intense and forlorn suffering imaginable for the sake of the ideal. We should never walk away from those who cannot walk away. 

From Changing the Game (2013) by Norm Phelps, animal rights activist, author and founding member of the Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians

As long as man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings, he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.

By Pythagoras, Greek philosopher, mathematician and founder of the Pythagorean brotherhood that formulated principles that influenced Plato and Aristotle

The logic that led to slavery and segregation in the Americas, colonization, and apartheid in Africa, and the rule of white supremacy throughout the world is the same one that leads to the exploitation of animals and the ravaging of nature. The fight for justice cannot be segregated but must be integrated with the fight for life in all its forms.

By Black liberation theologian James H. Cone in his essay Whose Earth is it Anyway? (2019)

Killing an animal to make a coat is a sin. It wasn’t meant to be and we have no right to do it. A woman gains status when she refuses to see anything killed to be put on her back. Then she’s truly beautiful.

By Doris Day, American actress, singer and animal rights activist

Whenever people say “We mustn’t be sentimental,” you can take it they are about to do something cruel. And if they add “We must be realistic,” they mean they are going to make money out of it.

By Brigid Brophy (Lady Levy), British writer and campaigner for animal rights, and Vice-President of the National Anti-Vivisection Society

Spirituality is what we feel and deeply know in our hearts, far out beyond the mind and logic. If you care about the suffering of others, in spite of society’s pressure to ignore it, you are a person who is in touch with your true heart and your true spirit. Spirituality is the unseen, but deeply felt, ahimsa love that dwells naturally in your hearts. 

From Homo Ahimsa, by Judy McCoy Carman, author and activist for peace, the environment and animal liberation

Just how destructive does a culinary preference have to be before we decide to eat something else? If contributing to the suffering of billions of animals that live miserable lives and (quite often) die in horrific ways isn’t motivation, what would be? If being the number one contributor to the most serious threat facing the planet (global warming) isn’t enough, what is? And if you are tempted to put off these questions of conscience, to say not now, then when?

From Eating Animals (2009) by Jonathan Safran Foer, American novelist 

Compassionate listening requires a particular attitude. It is non-judgmental, non-adversarial, and seeks the truth of the person questioned. It also seeks to see through any masks of hostility and fear to the sacredness of the individual and to discern the wounds suffered by all parties. Listeners do not defend themselves, but accept what others say as their perceptions. By listening, they validate the other’s right to their perceptions. 

From Compassionate Listening by Gene Knudsen Hoffman, Quaker peace activist, pastoral counselor, poet, columnist and author

There are three ways of killing that we, as Buddhists, have to restrain: either by directly killing, indirectly killing, or rejoicing to see others be killed. Not only does this apply to human life, it should be also extended to all living beings.

From Buddhism for Beginners by Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen Master, global spiritual leader, poet and peace activist

The moral duty of man consists in imitating the moral goodness and beneficence of God manifested in the creation toward all his creatures. That seeing as we daily do the goodness of God to all men, it is an example calling upon all men to practice the same towards each other; and, consequently, that everything of persecution and revenge between man and man, and everything of cruelty to animals, is a violation of moral duty.

From The Age of Reason: Being an Investigation of True and Fabulous Theology by Thomas Paine, American political activist/theorist and philosopher

For the Benefit of Animals and Humans:

 

As we advocate for the extension of compassion to nonhuman animals and the practice of spiritual, ethical veganism, at the same time we seek to end:

 

  • The chronic human illnesses and health problems created by meat-based diets;

 

  • The negative karma, dangerous and unhealthy working conditions, and sub-standard pay suffered by those humans who work in slaughterhouses and are forced to kill other living beings all day every day;

 

  • The effects of climate change and desecration of our environment caused by the animal agriculture industry;

 

  • The massive world hunger resulting from the inefficiencies of our agricultural emphasis on growing crops for consumption by farmed animals rather than humans.

From the Compassion Consortium