What does it take not to hurt or kill someone? Connecting with them in an emotionally meaningful way and seeing the similarities, instead of the differences between us. As long as we “de-humanize” other humans and live with the “us vs. them” mentality, we will continue to hurt and kill them. And as long as we “de-beingize” other animals and live with the mentality of seeing them as “expendable commodities”, so, too, we will continue to hurt and kill them.
When we close off our hearts from looking at and connecting with the pain of any other living being, we make it easy to inflict violence upon them, be that verbal, social, emotional, mental, or physical. This is how and why so much violence takes place on our Earth each day. One of the most powerful examples of this actually comes from the military and how soldiers are trained and conditioned to dehumanize the enemy that they are supposed to kill. Our very essence and natural tendency are not wired to kill or destroy others — not humans or other living beings. But given enough conditioning, this natural tendency is overridden, and in its place is a tendency to enact all sorts of violent acts, to the point that they seem normal.
While it is hopeful that many people today are waking up, speaking out, and choosing not to support any military action or wars inflicted on other humans, we are still ways away from doing the same for other living beings, namely animals. However, even here so much progress has been made in recent years and decades. Slowly, but surely, our attitudes and values are changing with regards to animals other than ourselves, and how we treat them. As more and more people learn about the horrors we subject animals to, and the more any of us make an emotional connection with any animal(s), the more we stop participating, whether directly or indirectly, in their torture and killing.
Author Joe Loria, of Mercy for Animals presents an excellent example through the article entitled Here’s How I Got My Meat-Eating Boyfriend to Go Vegan. Regardless of the example from the article is relatable to you or not, the message is clear and universal: When we emotionally connect with ANY other living being on a heart and soul level, it is impossible to hurt them or participate in any kind of harm against them. Furthermore, when we connect enough dots and bring this topic 360 degrees, we come to understand that as long as we hurt and kill others, we are also hurting and destroying ourselves.
“When given the opportunity to see these gentle, sensitive, and intelligent animals as the individuals they are, we so often can’t stomach the thought of eating them.”
Wherever you are on your life journey today, may you open your heart just a little more today than it was yesterday to all living beings that we share this Earth with. May you be open to making emotional connections that ignite new ways of thinking, being, and acting rooted in compassion, kindness, and love.