Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect. We are a part of the earth and it is part of us
I am not sure where I stand concerning the emphasis on New year, it is after all just another segment of time like any other. It’s only advantage is that it is often a time when people reflect on their lives and make resolutions though mostly personal, such as loosing weight or giving up smoking. But it can also be a time when collectively we reflect on our ethical and social progress and what has or has not happened in this regard – at least some of us do.
Progress has been made but there is so much to do and man’s inhumanity to man and the other animals with whom he shares this world continues to make thousands or more accurately millions mourn.
I hope this year we see more progress towards a fairer and more equal world for both human and non human animals. Sadly ethical social progress regarding both humans and animals – for example the slaughter of badgers – has taken a step back here in the UK and in other rich so called developing countries. Here in the UK the present unelected government enter another year of its unrelenting destruction of our welfare system, our NHS and its increasing agenda of inducing poverty and deprivation while allowing the rich to accrue more and more wealth. In the USA it is much the same as millions of unemployed people are set to loose their unemployment benefit. How are these unfortunate people supposed to live? How are they to feed clothe and provide shelter for themselves or their families. How are those here in the UK expected to do likewise as more and more people face up to three years of benefit sanctions for petty trivial and unreasonable violations of the rules, such as being a minute late for a job centre appointment. As incredulous as it may seem people have been sanctioned for attending a job interview instead of their Job centre apointment with their adviser. Ludicrous! Deliberate?
Even more serious, though it doesn’t of course mitigate the suffering of people in richer countries, is the continuing hunger and poverty in poor developing countries where thousands die day in and day out from want of food and clean water, all of which is here in abundance. During a meeting with Students of Jesuit Schools 6/7/13 Pope Francis said:
The times talk to us of so much poverty in the world and this is a scandal. Poverty in the world is a scandal. In a world where there is so much wealth, so many resources to feed everyone, it is unfathomable that there are so many hungry children, that there are so many children without an education, so many poor persons. Poverty today is a cry.”
The unremitting exploitation of the other creatures with whom we share this world continues and while progress is made in one area other atrocities continue from the live plucking of rabbits in China to the slaughter of dolphins in Peru. And don’t lets forget the suffering of billions of sentient beings in factory farms the world over to provide man with a food that is not natural at the expensive of not only these poor animals but other humans and the environment.
There appears to be no creature that man does not exploit, it is as though he thinks the world his is own to do with as he pleases, at least those who have all the power in the world, the rich elect, the one percent.
All creatures suffer the onslaught of the assault on our environment, on the very earth that sustains us. Driven by greed the human animal destroys not only the world for those of his own species and the myriad other creatures that inhabit this beautiful planet but for future generations. From the unthinkable mountain top removal to the assault on the pristine environment of the Arctic for oil the insane destruction of his own habitat continues unabated.
There is such a huge list of atrocities, outrageous and injustices committed to humans, nonhumans and the earth itself, were they listed and categorized the toll of misery and suffering would be overwhelming in the extreme.
I would like to share a few quotations concerning ethical progress, social justice, human and animals rights, ideas about how the world should be from notable thinkers both past and present.
“Social justice is for everyone, including people with disabilities.”
There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed.
We may never be strong enough to be entirely nonviolent in thought, word and deed. But we must keep nonviolence as our goal and make strong progress towards it.
The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
“A way has to be found to enable everyone to benefit from the fruits of the earth, and not simply to close the gap between the affluent and those who must be satisfied with the crumbs falling from the table, but above all to satisfy the demands of justice, fairness and respect for every human being.”
Pope Francis, Address to the Food and Agricultural Organization, 6/20/13
In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.
A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defence than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.
Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
Martin Luther King
The declaration of Human rights Article 25.
(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
I include this article here as it seems to be overlooked by most countries the world over including the UK where vicious welfare reforms have made people destitute, homeless and hungry and has result in the deaths of 10,000 people who were wrongly declared fit for work, in addition thousands have committed suicide.
Ethical social progress includes the other beings with whom we share this world – non human animals.
“Love of animals is a universal impulse, a common ground on which all of us may meet. By loving and understanding animals, perhaps we humans shall come to understand each other.”
Louis J. Camuti
“We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.”
When we understand that all animals are our relatives, perhaps then we can treat them as our brothers and sisters
Antony Douglas Williams
I have spent my life fighting discrimination and injustice, whether the victims are blacks, women, or gays and lesbians. No human being should be the target of prejudice or the object of vilification or be denied his or her basic rights.
But there are other issues of justice–not only for human beings but also for the world’s other sentient creatures. The matter of the abuse and cruelty we inflict on other animals has to fight for our attention in what sometimes seems an already overfull moral agenda. It is vital, however, that these instances of injustice not be overlooked.
I have seen firsthand how injustice gets overlooked when the victims are powerless or vulnerable, when they have no one to speak up for them and no means of representing themselves to a higher authority. Animals are in precisely that position. Unless we are mindful of their interests and speak out loudly on their behalf, abuse and cruelty go unchallenged.
It is a kind of theological folly to suppose that God has made the entire world just for human beings, or to suppose that God is interested in only one of the millions of species that inhabit God’s good earth.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
“Now, with regard to animals, they not only have life, but feelings of pleasure and pain too. We should treat their lives with respect, which we Tibetans are accustomed to do.”
The Dali Lama
“One day the absurdity of the almost universal human belief in the slavery of other animals will be palpable. We shall then have discovered our souls and become worthier of sharing this planet with them.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Ethical social progress includes respect for the earth, our environment, the planet that gives us life and belongs to no one but is home to all creatures – our only home,
“Because we don’t think about future generations, they will never forget us.”
“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”
Native American Proverb
“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.”
“Oh Beautiful for smoggy skies, insecticided grain,
For strip-mined mountain’s majesty above the asphalt plain.
America, America, man sheds his waste on thee,
And hides the pines with billboard signs, from sea to oily sea.”
“It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.”
“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”
And finally my favourite:
Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.
Cree Indian Proverb
Action to Take
There may be times when we are powerless to prevent social injustice , But there must never be a time when we fail to protest.
Please support campaigns to bring about a more just world for both man and other animals and a safe environment. Write letters, sign petitions, peacefully demonstrate and protest, do not accept what is happening to our fellow beings and the earth itself.
Here are a few suggestions to start the year.
Stop and penalize dolphin hunting off the coast of Peru:
I just saw a report on the news in Peru showing how fishermen are slaughtering up to 15,000 dolphins every year — for bait to catch endangered sharks. The entire story made me sick — and now I’m fighting to end this nightmare. Will you join me?
Save The Children
Every year, 6.6 million children die before their fifth birthday around the world. And here in Britain, 1.6 million children live in severe poverty.
Together we can end these scandals. But we need YOUR help to make it happen.
Several ways to help children world-wide
This New Year Resolve To Help The Planet
It’s Time to Protect Our Wild Places
The care2 petitions above may be signed by anyone world-wide
I hope the new year is a happy and more peaceful time for us all, and that there will be positive progression towards a more ethical world where all beings may live in peace in a safe environment.
Though such thoughts seem hollow as we know that happiness is an elusive state of being for most and that progression towards an ideal world for all creatures is a slow and painful process, I would nonetheless like to send some good thoughts your way.