I can hold my peace no longer. For too long – as long as I can remember – I have protested against cruelty to animals.
I grew up in Mudgee – a sleepy unsophisticated town back then. At the far, far end of the street where we lived, were “Sale Yards”; for a long time, I had no idea was “Sale Yards” were, but a friend and I set out on our bikes one day and rode all the way out of town to find out. (We were probably 10 or 12 years old at the time).
I was horrified!! Aghast! that people could be so cruel to animals.
I remember there were several yards packed full of pigs – literally, they had no room to move. A man near where I was standing picked up a little pig and THREW it to a man in another yard. I screamed and said “Don’t do that to the pig”. The man just laughed and said “It’s only a pig. It can’t feel anything”! I said nothing, but knew that he was wrong. In any case, a twelve-year old girl isn’t about to engage in a fight with a huge pig-handler!
Living in a country town, we had friends who lived “on the land”. It was mostly sheep country in those days. On several occasions, I entered shearing sheds while shearing was in progress. Such cruelty and rough handling I saw then – sheep cut, bashed, thrown. Again, I said to the man in charge “Why are they hurting the sheep?” The answer was the same: “They’re only sheep; they can’t feel anything”. Again, I knew he was wrong, but it’s not a child’s place to contradict the adult in charge.
Cracker night used to be fun – for some. We always had a big bonfire and a good supply of crackers. But every year, countless cats were killed or maimed by boys attaching a bundle of crackers to the cats, then lighting the crackers! Their excuse was the same, “What does it matter? They’re only cats.”
Various things have happened in the past few days:
- I came across a very long article on Facebook about the true state of the environmental issues that face the world urgently. Our politicians and bosses of very large companies don’t to take responsibility for attending to any of these HUGE issues.
- Christchurch pray-ers were shot in a mosque by a man on a mission of hate.
- An Australian senator’s response to this atrocious event went along the lines of “They’re Muslims so they deserve to be killed”!
- This past weekend heralded the opening of the Victorian duck-shooting season!!
Where does all this hatred and callousness come from?
The New Zealanders who were killed and injured in a mosque did not “deserve” their fate any more than the Victorian ducks who are being killed as I write this, deserve their fate. Nor did the sheep or pigs deserve their fate at the hands of men who were either ignorant or just plain callous.
- Why do we have a senator who justifies and spreads hatred?
- Why are innocent people killed?
- Why are innocent animals killed and abused?
The first of the Ten Commandments of the Christian faith is “Thou shalt not kill”.
It doesn’t say, “Thou shalt not kill humans who are of European origin, but killing animals is OK”. Animals, like humans are sentient beings. That is, they feel hunger, thirst, pain, fear, love and joy’.
If ever there was a time that the world needed yoga, it’s NOW. Not just the asanas (physical practices), but the breathing, the meditation, the yogic philosophies.
- On Friday, thousands of kids in Australia and across the world went on strike from school to draw attention to the huge issue of climate change and to try to influence politicians to actually do something about it.
- There are state and federal elections coming up.
In our preferential voting system, your vote can count twice: you can vote for the Animal Justice Part (or The Greens) FIRST and whichever major party you want to vote for as second. This will give a clear message to the major parties that we care about our environment, about climate change, about gun laws about animal cruelty. (Putting the minor party second does nothing to get this message across).
At Yoga Alive we end each yoga session with “Om Shaanti, shaanti, shaanti” – a peace invocation.
Just prior to that, we have either a deep relaxation or a meditation session, preceded by a breathing practice. The breathing practice is to teach our bodies to breathe correctly – that is, long, slow and deep, which relaxes our bodies and especially our minds.
We are using our breath to create peace in our bodies and minds.
People who abuse, kill, and stir up hatred have minds that are not at peace. People in positions of power, authority and responsibility who abuse their positions and act only on short-term self-interest, have minds that are not at peace.
Let us help to create a peaceful climate – help peace to permeate every corner of society.
With yoga, we can do that. With each person spending five minute of every day in meditation, we can do that. Please try to take more from your yoga class than just the extra stretch and strength. Take the peace, the joy – and let your light shine.
Om Shaanti, shaanti, shaanti.