Expanding our idea of nonviolence
Judy Carman, author of "Peace to all Beings":
As our faith grows, so does our desire to live by our highest ideals. Nonviolence and lovingkindness are two of these ideals shared by nearly all faith traditions.
Recently, news coverage of animal cruelty has dramatically increased. Together we have seen Michael Vick's dog fighting crimes, the horror of puppy mills and undercover footage of dairy cows in California being dragged to the slaughterhouse because they are too sick to walk. Being able to see into this largely hidden world of animal cruelty is awakening us to expand our ideal of nonviolence to include animals.
Sue Novak's Sept. 28 article in the Lawrence Journal-World spoke of the rising reports of animal cruelty here in Lawrence. Worldwide, human beings are responsible for animal cruelty on a nearly incomprehensible scale. Over 100 billion animals suffer and/or die by human hands every year. Animals used for fighting, pet breeding, entertainment, experiments, hunting, fishing, clothing and for food - all of these animals need the mercy and help of people of faith.
Each one of us can save hundreds of animals' lives by not eating them or their eggs and milk, by not supporting the other animal exploitation industries listed, by reporting cruelty when we see it and by praying for all animals. (See www.circleofcompassion.org to join the Prayer Circle for Animals.)
What a beautiful gift of peace each one of us can give to the world by liberating ourselves from all forms of killing and violence and by living gently and lovingly in harmony and harmlessly with all life. May we bring heaven to earth for all beings.
-Send e-mail to Judy Carman at email@example.com
Understanding our shared space
Ira L. DeSpain, minister to Baker University:
This question has multiple answers. "People of faith" are a diverse group. There is no common agreement among us on questions like this one. "The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters." (Psalm 24:1-2).
God created the world with much complexity and interconnectedness. The current interest in sustainability expresses connections between human beings and other animals and plant life. We share the same space and depend on each other. One answer is that we are to develop what Albert Schweitzer called a "reverence for life."
I believe that cruelty to domesticated animals is contrary to God's intent. Domesticated animals are made for our companionship and pleasure. Abusing them may show a deeper level of spiritual or psychological difficulty.
We differ in our views regarding hunting and fishing for sport or for food. Wildlife populations need to be monitored and controlled (as becomes obvious while driving at night during deer-mating season!). Yet to overkill leads to an environmental imbalance that sometimes takes centuries to reclaim.
Some people of faith are vegetarians because we wish not to participate in killing animals for moral, ethical or ecological reasons. I am not a vegetarian, but people of faith respect the points of view of other people of faith.
As a person of faith, I try to treat domesticated animals well. I believe the extermination of animals for financial gain (furs, skins, etc.) is contrary to God's intent.
There is a connectedness in creation that mirrors the connection that God has with each of us. It illustrates the connectedness of community as well - that when one suffers, we all suffer. Viewing what is around you may give you a glimpse of the nature of God.
- Send e-mail to Ira DeSpain at firstname.lastname@example.org.