Last night I found myself in tears watching the video footage of the body of a small child wash up on a Turkish beach. He is another victim of the Syrian migrant crisis. Thousands of innocent people fleeing their country just to save their own lives. He, his brother and their mother all died when they fell off the small rubber boat attempting to cross the sea to start a new life away from war and terror.
The news coverage showed the dead boy face down on the beach as well as the gut wrenching footage of the father in tears.
Earlier this week, a police officer was shot in cold blood in a town adjacent to where I grew up. A town where violence didn’t exist. A town I spent countless hours in as a child walking the streets, playing freely, picking daisies with my great grandma. The tragedy took place only blocks from my grandma’s home.
The officer went to my high school. His younger brother once a good friend of mine.
Each day I write in defense of animals. I fight against puppy-mills. I advocate for shelter animals. I encourage people to adopt. The blood of animals runs through me. My soul bares their scars. My heart feels their pain.
Last night, after the news and the horrific image of the Syrian boy and the death of the police officer – so close to my home, I felt forced to take pause. I questioned my fight for the animals. It is impossible to see an innocent boy dead on a beach and not wonder if fighting for the animals is what is important in this lifetime.
My head was spinning, my heart was hurting. Tears were streaming down my face. Completely overwhelmed by the enormity of tragedies across the globe, it was hard to find peace.
Finally, I took a deep breath and asked myself, “Why do I have to choose? Why is it animals OR people?”
The truth is that it is about kindness and peace for all creatures.
For me, it starts with animals. People come with baggage and opinions and beliefs. It is easy to understand why we can’t get along and why it is, often, so hard to find common ground and live peacefully among one another.
But, dogs come with no predisposed beliefs. They don’t come with a religion or a race or an income bracket. They always accept each of us as we are. They are the most loyal and loving companions on Earth. To treat them as poorly as we do, makes no sense, and, leaves me little hope for our ability to genuinely love one another.
I believe as a human race we have lost all sense of human kind.
For many, human life takes precedent over animal life. It is not my belief, but I can find reason to respect it. However, I challenge those who feel that way, to think beyond themselves and to look around and seek true peace. The kind of peace that only comes when you see yourself as one small part of the universe. Where you see humans and animals and the ocean and the sky as equals.
The wholeness of the world cannot be divided into pieces and placed in a hierarchy. All parts must work in unison.
We have done a phenomenal job destroying ourselves. Each day more violence, more hate. The world gasps at the little boy on the beach, only to shake their heads with a degree of acceptance at the terrorism behind the Syrian crisis. The nation cries at the news of a dead officer, yet continues to believe they are helpless to end the war on police.
Sadly, we have come to accept a degree of violence. We are learning to live in a world full of opposition and hostility.
The refugees of Syria haunt my dreams. The police officer’s death in my hometown pulls at my heartstrings, but I will continue to fight for the dogs, because I believe once everyone can see the innocence in the dogs, once everyone can see the pureness of their souls, once we can treat dogs with compassion, I believe we will have awakened a kinder spirit in our own souls. We will see, with complete clarity, the meaning of life. We will understand that we, as humans, are but one part of the universe. We will understand that our purpose is to be kind and to display compassion indiscriminately.
We will finally understand our life’s journey is to the leave the world a better place.