You can listen to this on the Reawaken Right Relationship podcast. There you’ll hear commitments others have made to the animals for 2019 which will give you some ideas of your own if you’re trying to figure out how to help the animals this year.
Is there a difference between making a resolution and making a commitment?
Indeed there is!
When I was about 13 or so, my dad would ask me on New Years Day what my resolutions were – they were always to not eat chocolate cake and to lose 15 pounds. I don’t know why it was 15 pounds, but that was always the magic number for years.
Each year I failed miserably at being able to stick to my resolutions. The failure filled me with guilt and shame – after all, everyone else (or so it seemed to me at the time) could keep resolutions, why couldn’t I?
In hindsight, I realize it was because I was participating in wishful thinking, if I think it, it will come. I didn’t have a plan in place to help me achieve those resolutions. I was expected, and therefore I expected myself, to achieve them through simple will power.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A COMMITMENT AND A RESOLUTION
Resolutions are temporary with nothing in place to help us attain the changes we aspire to make. Resolutions are lip-service; we mouth our plan of action but fail to have a strategy in place to motivate us to succeed.
Commitment, on the other hand, demands a course of action to reach a goal. It gives us the determination to maintain our resolve long after the resolution fizzled out. Commitment requires action not promises.
It’s not enough to simply have a resolution, we need to create a plan of action that helps us reach our goal and that keeps us accountable to reaching that goal.
The Reader’s Digest difference between a resolution and commitment: a resolution is comprised of lip service, a commitment has a plan of action behind it helping us to reach our goal.
Alrighty, let’s dive into some straight talk about our relationship with animals.
In a perfect world, we strive to cultivate reciprocal, respectful relationships with our animal kin, rather than ones based on power over another. Because we’re all related and all creatures do better when all creatures do better, right?
Sure, but we quite often don’t succeed.
And we don’t live in a perfect world.
In our world today it’s a given that everything’s not 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.
Even in our own households with our own animals we’re not always the paragons we think we might be.
Case in point: The other day I was consulting with a colleague about my dog Max. During the conversation it came up that I have been infantilizing Max. It’s not something I was doing consciously or purposefully, and it’s something I’m certainly not proud of, but the truth is Max has always been stuck in my mind as the darling 4 year old I adopted. In my minds eye I continue to see him when he first got into the car, and got stuck over the back seat, trying to get into the wayback of the car. The vision of that adorable butt and happily wagging tail is imprinted forever on my mind.
Which brings us around to the word ‘complicit’.
According to the dictionary, 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.
That word makes me feel uncomfortable and it took me awhile to finally realize why I was feeling that way: the word ‘complicit’ puts the onus of responsibility right where it belongs – on me. Actually it puts the onus of responsibility on you too, on each one of us humans.
I have often thoughtlessly and unconsciously, assumed someone else would take care of things, resulting in the world becoming a better place for the animals, and by extension, for me. In grappling with the word complicit and its effect on me, I came to realize there is no ‘other’ who is going to make those necessary changes. If I want to see changes made, it is up to me to make them. By not taking a pro-active stance and discreetly acquiescing to the happenings in the world, I am directly complicit in the creation of this world. A world where our animal kin are often 2nd, 3rd, 4th class citizens, even in our own homes.
HERE’S THE GOOD NEWS
It’s good to know when caring for animals we don’t need to have to jump off the cliff to do more, we only need to show up consistently where we are. 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.
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 be in right relationship with our animal kin 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 of 1-10. What makes a BIG difference for the animals is for each one of us to make our commitment, have an action plan behind the commitment so it doesn’t turn into a resolution and show up consistently for what is ours to do.
Here’s To New Beginnings,