As I mentioned in my last post, I have joined the We Stand With Love campaign to try to counteract the hatred and bigotry running rampant in our country lately. Below is my contribution to the campaign, entitled Loving Beyond Humanity to All Living Creatures. Here, too, is the link if you want to see a cute doggie picture and read other essays on going “Beyond Love.”
by Melanie Lynn Griffin
The more we practice “loving beyond ourselves,” the more we are challenged.
Heart-stretching can be a painful exercise as we confront our self-centeredness and prayerfully question the ways our societies, religious communities, and families make us insensitive to “the other.”
The reward is a gradual awakening to our true selves, and the discovery that our capacity for love and compassion is boundless: Joy! Connection! Belonging!
But wait — how far might this go? Might we move beyond ourselves to our families, and beyond our families to our neighbors, and beyond our neighbors to “the other,” and beyond “the other” to the enemy, so we include all human beings in our circle of love?
But then, might it go farther still – to include our fellow creatures?
To get there, we will have to have the courage to face some inconvenience.
How inconvenient to feel compassion for the cow that died for your steak dinner, or to learn that the pig that became your bacon was smarter than your golden retriever, or that contrary to what your father told you, the trout flapping on the end of your line most likely does feel pain.
How inconvenient that ExxonMobil’s potential Arctic oil field (which will power your SUV) also happens to be a nursery for polar bears and caribou, or that the site of the proposed Walmart (where you will buy your cow-skin shoes) is also home to an endangered gopher tortoise.
Your compassion practice may lead you to change some of your daily habits.
At the very least it will raise some tough questions: What is the cost of your lifestyle to the nonhuman creatures who share our planet?
Does a nonhuman creature have intrinsic value as God’s handiwork, or is it only valuable in service to humans? Today, practice stretching your circle of concern to include our fellow creatures on this beautiful planet that teems with precious life.
Questions for Today:
When have you witnessed obvious cruelty to an animal? How did you respond?
What would our society look like if we became more sensitive to the suffering of animals?
What happens to us if we become less sensitive to the suffering of our fellow creatures?
Melanie Lynn Griffin was an environmental lobbyist for many years. Now she is a freelance writer and pastor.