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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.