Like so many other people around the world I am numbed by the death of Harambe, the Silver Back Gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo.
His death is surrounded by debate, analysis, criticism, critique, judgment, blame, petitions and more. The racket of righteous outpourings is blaming everyone and their dog.
On both my personal Facebook page and my Janet Roper Animal Communicator page I had a post specifically for sending Harambe support, well wishes and gratitude for his life, and requested that if people wanted to participate in blame and judgment they do so elsewhere.
I was shocked at the number of people who were unable to simply support Harambe. Well wishes and support for Harambe were couched in the form of debate and judgment, finger-pointing and discrimination. I ended up taking the post down. When I stated I had taken the post down and asked for no comments, comments were left.
It’s Time For Change
The racket of noise in the media and social media that has surrounded this has demanded change in the system, in our relationship with the animals, the world, yada yada yada.
We heard the same media racket when Marius the giraffe was killed at the Copenhagen Zoo and when Cecil the lion was killed on a hunt in Zimbabwe.
Have any changes been made that will prevent this from happening again? Not that I’m aware of. And frankly folks, how naive are we to expect change when we live in a culture where our relationship with animals is still predominantly one of us vs. them and (at least in the U.S.) a gun culture mentality thrives of ‘shoot first, ask questions later’?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for change – change is long overdue. But where does the change start?
Here’s my answer to that: Change starts with compassion and with myself. I can’t change the system, but I can learn to be compassionate and I can certainly choose to change myself.
Where’s The Compassion?
Yesterday my friend Jane Joy Sparks and I did a day trip to the National Bison Range. Jane is a coach, animal lover, horsewoman and a Master Teacher in Reiki for Animals. Of course we talked about Harambe and the brouhaha surrounding him. Jane commented:
“After the shock of the recent incident at the Cincinnati Zoo, I was equally saddened by the reaction of individuals. So many individuals were traumatized that day……..[r]ather than feeling compassion for this life-altering event, so many people immediately went to who was at fault……Rather than point fingers, spewing vile condemnations and demonstrating self-righteousness, why not show compassion to this situation? Wouldn’t it be better to come together as a community and support those who now must live this memory? Let’s give first consideration to compassion rather than blame and judgement. Compassion needs to be emphasized.”
I couldn’t agree more. If only it were as easy to live compassion as it is to say the word ‘compassion’.
Compassion calls for me to examine myself, my actions and reactions closely and own up to my own willingness and righteousness to not show compassion in certain situations. It calls for close scrutiny of my own stance and beliefs when I am feeling the need to blame, point my finger and judge.
It’s easier for me to demand the world change, rather than change myself. But change does not start with the world, it starts with me.
Steps To Practice Compassion
The road to compassion is taken step by step. Sometimes with those steps I’m moving toward compassion, sometimes I’m moving away from compassion. The following act as guideposts for me, making sure I am moving toward compassion:
- Be kind to myself. I’m only human, I do make mistakes. Mistakes are not the end of the world, they can be rectified.
- Practice having empathy with others. My goodness gracious, what must it have been like for the people and the kids who witnessed this tragedy? How is it even possible to judge when I think of the trauma they are experiencing?
- Seek out commonalities. What is the common goal we all have? How does this person demonstrate they are experiencing certain aspects of a situation in the same way I am?
- Practice random acts of kindness. Yes indeed, those random acts do change the world, starting with the world of the person/animal/sentient being you are helping.
Change starts with us individually – each Janet, Sally, Robert and Sam. What change can you make today, leading you to compassion?
Here’s To New Beginnings,