There are animal lovers, and then there are those who go above and beyond in our devotion to our furry, feathered and scaled friends. We are the risk takers, physically, mentally, emotionally and financially. Always swimming against the tide (even for what we believe is the most noble of causes) can be disheartening and frankly, a little lonely for many of us.
For those of us in the rescue and sanctuary business, the physical demands of animal care take over every aspect of our lives. The demands of our conscience, however, are what really drive us over the edge. Are we doing enough? Are we doing it right? Is there really hope of changing the world so it’s not a hostile place for our animal friends? On top of that humanity has become exceedingly divided in every aspect, and that has infected us in animal advocacy just as profoundly as the rest of the world. How can it be that we, who harbor so much love in our hearts and perfect acceptance of animals for who they are, can be so miserably judgmental of people who see things differently? (And yes, I include myself in this . . . so many things that are perfectly obvious to me completely escape others who really should know better! See? I suck, too . . .) There are even those who shout that they only love animals and hate humans, with so many variants in between, all of us judging on our own set of scales, and in the end, fighting a battle for those we love that can’t be won if we waste our time fighting each other.
Sure, I’m a whacko who talks to animals, and worse, when they talk back to me I can hear them. Go ahead, judge me – I really don’t have time or energy to care. But if you must judge me as a nut case, do it based on this piece of news . . . my animal friends have told me the rules of the game for life here on this planet. First, all living creatures are filled with the exact same Spirit of Life and we are all spiritual brothers and sisters. Being creatures of One Spirit, whatever happens to one, affects us all. So humans hurting humans, humans hurting animals . . . it all contributes to bad environmental and energetic juju. Humans and animals are here to work together on this great planetary experiment to learn how to balance human ego with the delicacy of all the rest of Earth’s creatures.
There are plenty of perfect animals, but there are no perfect humans, just a lot of us trying really hard, hopefully with gusto, because word on the Celestial street is that we rise up together or we don’t rise up at all. In fact, we sink. Just look at what our lack of regard for animals has done to our environment . . . way too much to tackle here, but that’s what Google is for . . . so go for it!
Here are my thoughts. First, we find the least common denominator that all of us in animal advocacy share, and I think the one thing we all agree on at this point is that being an animal in a world full of humans just sucks! OK, maybe not much to work with, but it’s a starting point, a commonality. What we forget is that we are all on a different path, coming from different backgrounds, and we each grow and become enlightened at a different pace. I grew up in a family that hunted and ate ham and Swiss cheese roll ups for between meal snacks. Did it eat away at my conscience? Hell, yes! Could I do anything about it? Not living at my parents’ house, for reasons too complex to even begin to address here. But by the time I was 21, I was a vegetarian, destined to morph into veganism, and eventually to establishing an animal rescue and sanctuary. Almost four decades later I’m still growing and progressing every day, (I hope,) as are you.
If we can accept that we are all at different points on the spectrum, and can find ways to work together, there’s hope for our animal brothers and sisters. If not, our planet will continue to descend into chaos, disease and decay and we will all go down the evolutionary drain with the rest of the failed experiments like wooly mammoths and the mighty T-Rex.
I, however, am an optimist. Which means I have to keep trying, and I have to believe in the potential for goodness in humanity. Now that I have grandchildren I see the importance with even greater clarity – we have to do better for the future of those we love!!!
Here we are, hundreds of thousands of us in the business of animal advocacy, separated by our differences, prejudices and lack of tolerance, and the ones who suffer are the animals. We need a plan, DARNIT!!! No, that’s not an exclamation; it’s actually the plan. Domesticated Animal Rescue Network Integration Team, DARNIT. Again, it’s an acronym, but feel free to use it in other situations.
I have a few ideas to facilitate helping specifically domesticated animals. Humans created them and put them in this horrible position, humans need to find a way to respectfully care for them. (We can expand to wild animals at a later date if this works out – they need help, too!)
First, I want us to get to know each other, particularly those of us who work to help domesticated animals, from house pets to farm animals. My background is in journalism, so my plan is to interview people involved in animal advocacy and post the videos on a DARNIT YouTube channel. Everyone from sanctuaries to foster facilities to people who work with state and federal legislatures on behalf of animals. I want to talk about philosophies and food and progressive, long-term solutions, as long as they are geared toward the health, safety and salvation of our animal buddies (which is what is going to save humanity in the end, as well.)
Next we post all this information on a webpage, including what each group or individual does and their mission statements, goals and most importantly, what they need and what they can offer other people doing animal advocacy. Even if we can’t agree, we can still help each other with this gargantuan task. I’ve actually seen organizations purposely work to close down rescues and sanctuaries because they didn’t agree with a philosophy. Groups declaring war on each other is counterproductive, and I’m afraid it usually comes from a place of over-inflated human ego. We can be better than that!!!
If all goes well we can try a Facebook page to easily reach each other to ask for or offer assistance (got extra horse blankets? Post them. Hay taking up space in your mow? Put it to good use!) But with the caveat that we are nice to each other. We all have the option to look up each other’s mission statements. If you truly are disgusted by what you see, SHHHHHH! BE NICE!! MOVE ALONG!!!!
Anyways, if we can be civil and remember we are all at different levels in our journey, all of us knowing that most animals have sucky lives, understanding that we are all One Spirit and need each other, we can finally make progress for them. Or at least that’s what my optimistic spirit tells me.
If you would like to be a part of this, let me know and I can schedule a 20-minute interview and start sending out questionnaires so we can begin to share information online. Remember, this is about ANIMAL ADVOCACY. I have limits as to what I will do. I won’t interview people involved with slaughter, even of well-cared-for animals. Sorry. I just can’t and there are plenty of other venues for you. But no-kill shelters – consider yourselves in the loop. People involved in cruelty-free food and other products are a definite yes. I’m pretty flexible if your ultimate goal is kindness and improving the lives and prospects of domesticated animals, so let me know. And if you think you can help in any way, please offer! I’m exceedingly busy and don’t have huge chunks of time, so if you have a skill set that will fit in with this philosophy and want to contribute, please contact me. If I don’t get back to you, BUG ME! We have a lot of animals to take care of, and their needs will always come first, so my distractions are many.
DARNIT, let’s get started!!
Kathleen Schurman and her husband, David, are enslaved by the many animals of Locket’s Meadow. Pity them. Kathleen can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.