Judy Carman, M.A.,
World Peace Writers
Many great spiritual leaders have stated that we will never have world peace until we end our war against animals. But it is up to us to let go of our violent tendencies and embrace our true nature as people who, in Dostoevsky’s words, “will at last come to love the whole world with an abiding, universal love.”
Ken Damro’s last hunt took place when he tracked a wounded deer whom he had shot the day before.
“I could see where this wounded deer had bedded down in a pool of blood and intestinal bile—where its pain must have been so intense…But the most moving aspect of this scenario was that this doe had a companion.”
By reading the tracks, Ken realized that the friend never left the wounded deer’s side until she finally died. Seeing those tracks touched him deeply, and he never hunted again. Damro chronicled his journey to nonviolence in his book A Northwoodsman’s Guide to Everyday Compassion.
In his famous “Hunter’s Poem” Lemuel T. Ward described his last hunt. He shot two geese who fell to the ground near him. He watched as the male bird called to his mate, “And she dragged herself to his side. ..Then covering him with her broken wing, and gasping with failing breath; she laid her head against his breast; a feeble honk, then death….” With tears streaming down his face Ward buried the birds and threw his gun in the bay, never to hunt again. [Read A Hunter's Poem by Lemuel T. Ward...]
The Buddha said, “All beings tremble before violence. All fear death. All love life. See yourself in others. Then whom can you hurt? What harm can you do?” These men saw themselves in the deer and the geese, and they could never again do such harm...
After decades of hunting and fishing, Steve Hindi had an awakening of compassion and founded SHARK (Showing Animals Respect and Kindness).
“God knows,” Hindi wrote, “how I fought to continue to kill. Leaving blood sports meant accepting a whole new set of values, and eventually coming to terms with owing a debt I could never repay.”
He buried the fish and other beings he had hung on his walls and became an activist for the rights of animals. Regarding the violence that fish experience, he said “…I know they suffer tremendously, just as we would if subjected to such horrendous treatment.”
In the depths of our souls love for all creation lives and longs to be expressed. But we also have a long history of violence and oppression toward animals, women, minorities, the earth, and beings we perceive as “the other.” Nearly every religion, at its core, attempts to counteract the human tendency to violence by teaching that love is the only way to live. Norm Phelps concludes in The Dominion of Love: Animal Rights According to the Bible that “We have no moral right to make choices that destroy the happiness and steal the lives of helpless beings who are absolutely at our mercy.”
Mother Teresa taught that it is our duty to protect animals. St. Francis of Assisi said we must not hurt animals and that we actually have “a higher mission—to be of service to them…” The Jain religion promotes living a life of “ahimsa” or harmlessness and lovingkindness to all living beings. In early Genesis, people and animals live together in harmony. The Bible describes a time when we will return to that ideal nonviolent, compassionate, and loving way of life in which no animals will be eaten, hunted, fished, or exploited. Many great spiritual leaders have stated that we will never have world peace until we end our war against animals.
But it is up to us to let go of our violent tendencies and embrace our true nature as people who, in Dostoevsky’s words, “will at last come to love the whole world with an abiding, universal love.”
Return to: Animals: Tradition, Philosophy, Religion