Living in Joy in an often Joyless World


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Living in Joy in an often Joyless World

Comments by Gary Loewenthal - 30 Jan 2006

Showing compassion and caring is never a wasted effort. Who knows the wondrous and mysterious ways in which our efforts will pay off? Petting the lonely cat in his cage at the shelter is doing the Lord's work. God cares for a single sparrow, as well as His Creation as a whole.

Being involved in animal activism these last few years, I almost constantly see heated discussions about "which area of activism should we focus on?" which inevitably morphs into "well, we're wasting our time doing X because we really should be doing Y."

We should do X and Y. It's all good. I realize that compared to the extensive ecological destruction caused by the beef industry, the pain and frustration of one circus elephant is nothing. Yet I can't ignore that elephant. What if I was that elephant?

Fortunately, most of us are working the problem from multiple angles. We share tasty vegan recipes with our friends. We persuade a relative to buy faux fur instead of real fur. We exercise our consumer power by patronizing stores with more ethical policies.

Furthermore, in the aggregate, our various efforts combine wonderfully and synergistically. Each of us follows our heart and is an activist in whatever ways we're most comfortable. Between all that tree-planting and leafleting and writing letters to food editors and showing "Peaceable Kingdom" in our churches and synagogues and enlightening friends and family and praying for sustenance and guidance, I have faith that we'll eventually prevail.

I'm a broken record on this, but there are signs of progress all around us, if you look. For instance, practically every week, another college switches to cage-free eggs only. Each of these moves eases the suffering of hundreds of thousands of hens. But that, to me - as glorious as it is - is not what is most notable. What is most notable is that enough people cared about these hens to enact the policy.

Certainly, cage-free eggs is nowhere near the end point we want to achieve. But it is a step in the right direction.

I sense that the zoo association is slowly losing its battle over whether it's ethical to confine elephants in zoos. At minimum, there is increasing pressure to build bigger, more accommodating habitats for these gentle giants - and more likelihood that that will be done. Again, this is the result of people caring. Some restaurants - not enough but quite a few - have stopped serving foie gras, on ethical grounds. This is a small but significant step. In Chicago they are considering banning it in the entire city.

And so forth. There are certainly many practical things we can do to save the earth, and I endorse and applaud every single one. But I believe all our efforts will be for naught if we do not increase the amount of compassion in the world. If we care about one another, and about all creatures who thrive from our kindness and suffer from our callousness, I have no doubt that we can pull ourselves up from any morass, even The Fall, and eventually reach the Peaceable Kingdom.


Go on to: By Rhonda - 30 Jan 2006
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