My name is Annabel Ruffell and I am the founder of Journey for Earth, a socially conscious media company that shares the personal journeys of inspiring individuals making a positive impact in the world.
On a regular basis I am also going to be posting other peoples articles that I find inspiring – and also inviting people to submit a piece – on the topics of: environment, animals, humanity, health, parenting, and anything else that inspires thought, connection and supports us in being the best that we can be.
Today’s guest post is by Stephanie Vessely. Stephanie lives in Denver, Colorado and is somewhere in the middle of a lifelong love affair with words. She feels a little out of place a lot of the time and thinks writing about herself in third person is awkward. She is regularly saved by yoga and is searching for Truth. These are a few places she’s found it: the swaying of tree branches, the ocean, the laughter of her niece and nephew and her own heart, when she can be still enough to hear it. She’s an aspiring vegan who loves travel, hates small talk and hopes to help save the animals. Someday, she’ll learn how to tap dance. In the meantime, she keeps “scribbled secret notebooks,” and knows everything is as it should be, even if she has a hard time remembering it. Follow her on Facebook or visit http://www.stephanievessely.com.
Why People Hurt Animals ~ Stephanie Vessely
“Do you believe we are equal to animals?”
My mother asked me this question after she read one of my recent posts about why I think it’s wrong to kill animals for food.
Without hesitation I answered yes.
I come from a family of meat-eaters, and it’s difficult at times for them to understand why I’m a vegetarian. I became a vegetarian because of the book The Food Revolution, by John Robbins. It opened my eyes to animal abuse and torture on factory farms. Once I knew what animals were going through to get to me, I no longer wanted them on my plate.
Shortly after reading the book, a sweet dog I called Jack came into my life. You can read the story about him here.
It was through my time with Jack that I began to see to animals in a different way. And since then, as I’ve developed spiritually through yoga and meditation, I’ve developed a deep connection with nature—especially animals.
Because of this, I struggle to understand why people do the things they do to animals. I can’t wrap my head around animal abuse, torture and neglect. I can only ever ask “Why?”
My mom’s question is what pointed me to an answer: For most of us, there’s a disconnect.
The majority of the population doesn’t feel the connection that I, and other animal lovers, have with animals. Don’t get me wrong, we love our animals—just look at the pet supply industry. But we tend to think that we are superior to them, and that they are here for our purposes, not their own.
What’s missing is connection.
The idea that we are all one is one that touted in many religions and new age philosophies. And it’s one I believe in. Energy is energy, and we are all made of the same stuff.
The difference for me is that I include animals in that, as well as trees, and mountains, etc.
We are them, and they are us.
I don’t mean this abstractly. When I am in the presence of an animal, any animal, I feel something holy.
I feel a deep and vast stillness. I feel god, whatever your definition of that is. I can spend hours just watching them do their thing, because being near them awakens something true inside of me.
This connection tells me that animals are not here just to be our food supply, our hobbies or our fun.
Their purpose is bigger than this.
Sometimes I think one of those purposes is to be our guides. They are living examples reminding us of what we are here to do: just be.
They are the ones who have this place figured out. Don’t believe me? Just spend some time with them. Watch them.
For instance, when the sun comes through the window in just the right way, my cat will mosey over, lay down in it and stretch out, feeling the delicious warmth on his belly.
Me? I’m more likely to be sitting there folding laundry or trying to get things done—anything that is the opposite of just being.
Animals are absolutely present in every single moment. They don’t exist in any other way. Which, as far as I know, is the same thing we are all supposed to be doing.
That’s why animals should be to be honored—not used, and definitely not tortured.
There is so much here for us to enjoy—even the ugly parts. Yet most of us let it all pass by, when what we are meant to do is embrace the beauty of every moment.
To be totally present is what makes us totally alive.
Some will say that my cat can laze about and enjoy the present moment because he doesn’t have bills to pay and mouths to feed. This is true. But just because we have those obligations doesn’t mean we can’t bring presence to every moment.
Others might say that my cat can enjoy the moment because his brain is smaller and he’s intellectually inferior. This is also true.
But just because humans were given the capacity to think, create and conquer, doesn’t mean we are superior. It only means that we have a different role to play here.
And it means we have more responsibility, especially to those who don’t have the power or the voice to speak up for themselves, like animals and children.
Animals have just as much right to be here as we do. In some cases I might even argue that they have more of a right. Last time I checked they weren’t the ones insistent on destroying the planet. They aren’t the ones who take more than they need or who harm for personal gain.
Animals are here to show us another way of being. It’s up to us to pay attention.
Too simple? Maybe.
But maybe simple is good.
Maybe simple means you don’t worry about whether you should eat dessert, or that you spend an extra 20 minutes with your kids before bed.
Maybe it means we just exist with what arises, like the animals do.
Try it next time you’re with an animal. Sit with it, watch it, stare into its eyes and see if you don’t suddenly know things you didn’t before.
Maybe more of us can find the connection, and think again about what we are allowing to happen in factory farms across the country every day.
Because if we truly are all one, then what we do to them we do to ourselves.
Those people who hurt animals, who kill them needlessly, and especially those who do it for profit, aren’t evil. They are just missing this connection.
Maybe if more of us recognize it, and develop it, we can change the system.
What Journey are YOU on?