My, 2017 has been quite the year, hasn’t it? Everything turned upside down – what used to be down is up, and what used to be up is down. I can no longer rely on what I used to be dependable and everyday there are circumstances that prove that point. At least that’s how I experienced 2017. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so shocked when it was announced the 2017 Word of the Year from Dictionary.com was Complicit.
Complicit means “choosing to be involved in an illegal or questionable act, especially with others; having partnership or involvement in wrongdoing.” Or, put simply, it means being, at some level, responsible for something . . . even if indirectly.
When I heard that word had been chosen, I was confounded. Why? Why on earth was that word selected? Aren’t words of the year supposed to be ‘good’ words? Words that inspire, build faith, are motivational and magically make the world a better place?
For quite awhile, I wrestled with both the word and the decision to make it word of the year. That wrestling turned into self-reflection to uncover why it was such a trigger for me. I spent lots of time observing my reaction to the word, finally realizing there was a tendency for me to be drawn into a rabbit hole of mind spinning numbness and anxiety. There was no rhyme or reason to the mind spinning and certainly no logic. It was a useless vortex of ‘what ifs’ and ‘but……’. Worse than the mental angst was the way the word made me feel sick to my stomach and caused shortness of breath. The deeper I went into the rabbit hole trying to come to terms with ‘complicit’, the more nauseous I became.
And then I finally realized why I was feeling that way: the word ‘complicit’ puts the onus of responsibility right where it belongs – on me. I had, thoughtlessly and unconsciously, assumed someone else would take care of things, resulting in the world becoming a better place for me. In grappling with the word and its effect on me, I came to realize there was no ‘other’ who was going to make those necessary changes. If I wanted to see changes made, it was up to me to make them. By not taking a pro-active stance and discreetly acquiescing to the happenings in the world, I was directly complicit in the creation of this world.
Being Complicit In The Lives Of Animals
Uffda. Not a pleasant realization. A necessary one, but not a pleasant one. Naturally, I immediately went down the rabbit hole of how I am complicit with the way animals live and are treated in our world.
Luckily, that rabbit hole wasn’t nearly as voracious in consuming me as the previous one had been.
Between the abuse, neglect, the trophy hunting, whatever, it’s a given that It’s Not Coming Up Roses for our animal kin. Just imagining what the animals regularly encounter at the hands of humans can lead us to feeling helpless, overwhelmed by shame and guilt. We become paralyzed, incapable of taking positive action. Regardless of the cause of the paralysis, the result is my, our, complicity in the plight of animals.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be like that! Being the good humans we are, we tend to think we have to go to the nth degree to make any kind of difference in the treatment of animals. We feel we have to give to the hilt whether we’re giving of our time, money or energy, and no matter how much we give, it won’t make a difference because there is So. Much. Need.
This makes me think of the movie This Is Spinal Tap, where the numbers on the amp go up to 11, instead of the normal 10. Paraphrasing the character Nigel Tufnel, “Where do you go from 10? When you need that push over the cliff, where do you go?”
It’s good to know when caring for animals we don’t need to have that push over the cliff to do more, we only need to show up. We don’t have to travel to Africa or even across town to make a difference for the animals. We don’t need to keep donating more and more money for the animals, putting ourselves in debt or creating anxiety and guilt for ourselves because we don’t have the financial means to donate.
We only need to look at what’s right under our noses, which of course, can be the most difficult place to see anything. What’s happening with the animals in your own back yard, in your neighborhood? To make a difference in the lives of animals we need only look for a place we can help and then show up, and show up consistently.
When we find that place where we are truly called to help the animals, that place where only we can make the difference, it will be both obvious and easy.
Some Ways You Can Help The Animals
As modern shaman Kelley Harrell says about shamanism: “Shamanism is where you stand. It isn’t another place, culture, or time. You’re already on the path. Learn to be in direct relationship with it.”
Here are some ways to help animals where you can easily step forward and make a big difference:
- Feed the birds in your backyard
- Place water out for the birds and wildlife
- Clean the feeders and water containers
- Feed the wildlife
- Plant a garden that is bee and bird friendly
- Walk an elderly neighbor’s dog a couple of times a week
- When you see a lost animal post on social media, share it
- If there’s a lost animal in your neighborhood find out how you can help. Maybe it’s putting up posters, searching or staying at the neighbor’s house while they search
- Know how to contact your local rehabber for injured animals
- Volunteer at your local humane society or rescue
- Teach children how to be in right relationship with animals
- Become a model for right relationship with animals to the people in your life
It’s important to remember that to change the world and become uncomplicit (my word, but I like it) in the way of the world, we don’t need to be an 11 on the scale. We can operate perfectly well at a 1 or 2 and make a BIG difference for the animals, as long as we show up consistently for what is our own part to do.
If you are feeling at a loss in discovering what your role is in helping the animals, I can help. What does your specific role in helping the animals look like and feel like? Where do you find it? How can you learn to be in direct relationship with your unique path of helping animals? Contact me and we’ll discover together how you can help the animals!
Here’s To New Beginnings,