Do It For Love!
From All-Creatures.org Animal Rights Activism Articles Archive

FROM

Ellie Laks, The Gentle Barn
February 2017

I think that experience in the petting zoo is perhaps a metaphor for the way life is. I think there are people who care, see, hear, and are aware of others besides themselves, and then I think there are some who donít see, canít hear, and, are completely devoid of any empathy for others. The only question that begs to be asked is, which one are we? Are we the ones who can see the suffering of others as our own, or the ones who cannot see it at all? Are we the ones who have come to save this planet, or destroy it? Are we connected to all life, all things, or are we only concerned with ourselves?

pig and peacock

The Gentle Barn was my dream since I was seven-years old, but I had no money, no land, and no confidence to follow my dream. It wasnít until many years later that I discovered an abusive petting zoo and starting bringing home animals to my little half-acre back yard, that I actually started fulfilling my destiny. What was most disturbing about that original petting zoo that started it all was not the over-grown toenails, or the dead animals in cages, or the hollow eyes, or the exhausted ponies going round and round in circles, or the lack of water, but the hundreds of visitors who smiled and took pictures and could not see the suffering right in front of them. Their blindness, apathy, and, focus on their own experience has haunted me ever since. How could I have been the only one there who could see the suffering, pain, and, hopelessness on the faces of every creature there?!

horse and goat

I think that experience in the petting zoo is perhaps a metaphor for the way life is. I think there are people who care, see, hear, and are aware of others besides themselves, and then I think there are some who donít see, canít hear, and, are completely devoid of any empathy for others. There is a Native American tale that tells of the first inhabitants of this planet. They were kind, evolved, connected, and, almost angelic. They came here to love and care for this planet. Each of them brought with them mythical creatures of every size, shape, and color to make this planet magical, that we now call animals. This was a place of abundance, green beauty, and wonder. Later, there was another star planet that was destroyed and itsí inhabitants came to this planet seeking refuge. They were, however, very different than the original light workers who came first. They were greedy, callous, cold, selfish, and very destructive. In time, the selfish ones started chopping down trees, eating the mythical, magic creatures, and destroying everything they could find for personal gain. The original star people tried all they could to save the innocent but it got harder and harder. The war between the two human-kinds, good and bad, the giving and selfish, the pure and evil, has waged ever since.

pig and turkey

So, what if that story were true? Or maybe it reflects what is happening on our planet now? What if there are the very rich, money-motivated people who will destroy everything for personal gain, and there are people who care deeply about others and want to spare their suffering? The only question that begs to be asked is, which one are we? Are we the ones who can see the suffering of others as our own, or the ones who cannot see it at all? Are we the ones who have come to save this planet, or destroy it? Are we connected to all life, all things, or are we only concerned with ourselves? Are we the ones who see an abusive petting zoo, are sick to our stomachs at the abuse, and do something about it, or are we the ones who turn a blind eye because it is entertaining and fun for us? Who are we and what do we stand for? Once we decide, what are we willing to give up or do to stand by our convictions?

I have always been this way. I have always loved animals. I have always been the one to bring someone home if they are suffering. I have always been the one to cry and rebel in the face of injustice. I have always felt anyone elseís pain as my own. I have always been unable and unwilling to be silent in the face of cruelty. When I found lost or injured animals when I was a child, I brought them home. When I found out that the ďfoodĒ on my plate was animals, I stopped eating meat. Later, as a young adult when I found out that milk was cowís milk belonging to slaughtered baby cows, I went vegan. When I found animals suffering at a petting zoo and no one of any authority would help, I took them home and started The Gentle Barn. These were not hard choices, they were the only choices!

When I go to sleep at night, it is a wonderful feeling to know that no one suffered or died for me to live. I still toss and turn with wondering how can I do more? How can I make more of a difference and save more lives? I am not saying it is not possible to love animals and eat meat, because everyone is evolving at their own pace. But, on Valentines Day, I challenge all of us to wonder, how can we care more? How can we give or do more? How can we sacrifice more so that others can live more? What more can we do in the giant face of injustice before us? How can we save the planet more? How can we help animals more? How can we be more connected? For Valentines Day, how can we all love more? If you are a meat eater, would you consider going vegetarian? If you are vegetarian, would you consider going vegan? If you are vegan, would you consider meditating more and putting more positive light in the world? Even I, a vegan, only buys cruelty free products, is aware of all the issues, who runs a sanctuary and is saving animals, I still ask the question every single day: how can I love more?

This Valentines Day letís celebrate our loved ones, be romantic with our significant others, and maybe bask in roses and chocolates. But while we are doing that, can we find a way to love more and do more for the animals, the planet, and our own health at the same time? Lets do it together! Letís do it for love!


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