At this time of year, thoughts usually turn to peace – on this earth, among friends, families and warring nations alike. We can all get on board with this concept, perhaps because it is one which we relegate to a few days or weeks out of the year. We get a warm fuzzy feeling when we hear the word peace, because it is, after all, a peaceful sounding word – go figure!!! But once the frivolity is over and all the bells, whistles and baubles are safely packed away, we experience a collective sigh of relief. Now we can get on with the requisite New Year’s Resolutions and with making things happen in our lives, instead of celebrating what we already have and who we already are.
Two peace related concepts have landed in my world this holiday season and have made for much reflection and some action on my part. They are none other than gratitude and charity. We hardly make time for gratitude as we barrel through our lives, always trying to get somewhere, perhaps even trying to be or to procure something that may be unattainable and ultimately unneeded. My “getting somewhere” came to a screeching halt when a chronic, but manageable health issue reared its ugly head. Suffice it to say that I had been running pell-mell (I used to say, “like a chicken with its head cut off”) and did not notice the symptoms knocking at my door until I was feeling really crummy. I had to step back from my animal activism telling my vegan and animal advocate confrères that I would be back in the New Year when my new meds kicked in. This made me sad and a little bit mad and a little bit down in the mouth. I have to get control (dangerous word) of this I told myself, trying as usual to force something that simply cannot be forced.
It was at this point that I connected on a deeper level with a fellow vegan and Facebook Friend, Lisette Templin. She spoke to me about letting go and
not trying so hard to be well, about connecting with the word flow, about deep breathing and QiGong, about releasing the long held pain of family trauma and about eating more whole foods. Lisette also mentioned that advocating for animals and knowing what we know can take a toll on the emotional self which is then reflected in our physical selves. Slowing down and being in the moment, whether forced or not does give us an opportunity to feel gratitude for our presence on this earth, for our emotional and physical lives, for all life on this earth and for those we love and who love us in return – an opportunity for just being!!! Reveling in the joy are wise words from Lisette.
And what about charity? Just this past week I came across a Facebook post from my daughter’s friend, Stef. She is actively advocating for a woman she barely knows – a woman who is on her own with three young kids and a fourth due in the spring. “What can I do to help?”, I asked. Along with some of Stef’s kind friends we are donating some goods to make this Christmas and the coming year a little easier. We are giving help because it is needed and because we can. Gratitude for the blessings in our own lives can serve to make us feel more charitable towards others who are having a rough time – there but for fortune my friends, there but for fortune!!!
These two life happenings have led me to much reflection about how empowering gratitude and charity can be in our advocacy for all other species. Gratitude for even being on this earth, for seeing and acknowledging our complicity, gratitude for being in a time when our message is being heard, gratitude for good friends with whom to advocate, gratitude for persons like Esther and her two Dads, gratitude for those who are saved through our efforts.
This gratitude is, in essence, magnificent and it opens the door to true charity, being that which we do for no personal gain, that which we do humbly and with respect for all living beings on this earth. So, like the Grinch, our hearts which may have at one time been two sizes too small are now big enough and strong enough to take on even the skeptical, the disconnected, the complicit, the perpetrators, the uncharitable. I am with my friend Jimmy when he says, “I believe in a vegan world”.
Annie’s Vegan View
We cannot in good conscience, hunt, enslave, abuse, torture and murder those we love and respect, all for our wants, not needs.
Let there be vegan peace on earth and let it begin with each and every one of us!!!
I wish you all a wonderful fête and I will see you on the flip side (old timey term from and old timer) in 2016 ready to rumble and to stand with humanity as one voice, in unity with and for the animals.
May all beings be happy and free.