Kindness Matters

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the ways its animals are treated.” ~ Gandhi

During a lunch conversation today, I was reminded about the significance of kindness, caring, compassion and giving. It’s good to be regularly reminded about these actions. Returning to my office, I saw an internet feed about an elephant that was freed after being held in captivity for 50+ years. The team that rescued the elephant was stunned when, during its release from restricting chains, it actually had tears streaming from its eyes.

I may be on my periodic soapbox here but the message is fair. Acts of kindness toward animals are prompted by little more than the goodwill of humans who recognize another sentient being in need and step in to help. While there are lots of videos and stories out there about the cruel things humans do to animals, there exists plenty of evidence to show that amazing and compassionate humans are also among us.

The now famous and viral commencement speech delivered by George Saunders in 2013 has been amended and abridged. In the following brief video, Saunders highlights the importance of kindness and failures of kindness.

Just as with humans, the smallest acts of kindness with animals can be incredibly rewarding. There is no kind deed that ought to go unrecognized.

Yes, I am an animal rights advocate. I abhor animal abandonment and abuse. Taking positive action in support and defense of animals is, in my opinion, a right and good thing to do.

There are many ways to be kind to animals. You don’t have to travel to Africa to fight the poachers; you can evidence your compassion locally. Here are three simple ways in which you can act on your desire to care:

  1. Help the strays. Stray animals aren’t any less living beings just because they don’t have a home, the same way people living on the streets aren’t any less human because they too are homeless. Resist the urge to shoo it away and just go about your day. They might be feeling lonely or are just pleased to see you. Remember to approach cautiously so you don’t scare the animal or put yourself in danger.
  2. Check that you aren’t inadvertently supporting animal cruelty. Did you know that circuses are cruel, because they force animals to do unnatural things using painful techniques? Maybe there are other tickets you could purchase. And check that none of your household products (like shampoos, makeup, or medicine) aren’t tested on animals. You can do this here.
  3. Spend even just a few minutes playing with, cuddling or walking a homeless shelter pet who is grieving the loss of her family. When you’re having a particularly stressful day, this is a good way to rebalance and is a beautiful gift to the shelter companion, too.

44 thoughts on “Kindness Matters

  1. Does feeding raccoons and possums cat kibble count? Life is hard enough in the wild… This too will pass

  2. So true. Kindness does go a long long way. 🙂
    I absolutely love the last picture here of the man and dog hugging while sleeping.

    • Agreed, Debra. Always conscious of word count (and trying futilely to keep it reasonable), I chose to not list many other category of animal. To your specific reference, yes! Equally terrible treatment. Thanks for being of like mind.

  3. I got my cats from a stray cat that my friends took in. That cat had kittens, and rather than put them all out on the street, as is the norm I suppose, I took two of the 5 kittens. Other people took the other kittens as well.
    It really bugs me that we lose over 20 species of animals a day all over the world because man, the so-called smartest animal on the planet, is greedy, self-centered, and only thinking about himself.
    You know I agree with you 100% on this one, Eric.

    • While large dogs have always been my animal companion of choice, I’m just as proud of people who rescue/adopt cats and other strays. I also appreciate Cteavin’s below comment about humans who are indifferent to animal suffering… It’s good to know many of us are on the same page and act accordingly. Thanks, Ger.

  4. Thank you for this wonderful post! Kindness isn’t just not doing harm (like the Saunders video talks about), but requires some effort. But that effort does not necessarily need to be difficult or hard; the simplest of gestures can make all the difference. 🙂

    • Rarely, if ever, does it need to be difficult or hard. That’s part of what makes acts of kindness to enjoyable to do — regularly. I always cite Mother Teresa when it comes to practicing kindness. Her actions we so often small but cumulatively, huge! Thanks for adding to the positivity here. 🙂

  5. Beautiful post Eric. You’ve dealt with a subject very close to my heart. Tragically I live in a continent and country where the track record of treatment of animals can only be described as disgusting. Not easy.

    • Appreciate your warm acknowledgment of the post, Don. I thought of you (though unintentionally) when I referenced poachers. In my mind, even though it may not stop their horrific acts, karma always finds its way.

  6. Fantastic, Eric. Oh how I’ve missed your posts! Hope you’ve been well.
    And as a side, we have always had rescued dogs as pets, and that’s the only way I’d have it. It just feels right to me. Good on you for advocating kindness to all. It’s a fantastic cause!

    • Seeing a comment from you made my day, EJ. I had figured you simply hunkered down for the winter. Nice to have you come out of hibernation, even if only temporarily. For the record, I’ve missed your posts as well. Must click over to see what’s new in your life/sphere. And by the way, all of my dogs (over the years) have been rescues. Good on you, mate!

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