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Preface – this post has nothing whatsoever to do with jewelry, fashion or anything remotely associated with either. I’m moving in a bit of a new direction, not sure where it will lead but quite simply, I want my blog to be a forum for all manner of pawisitive vibes. I hope you’ll stick with me as I figure out my new direction! And don’t worry, I’m not giving up on creating beauty, I’ve got lots of new jewelry pieces in the works!
I’ve been really struggling with all the animal cruelty images on social media lately. There are days that I just want to scream, “enough”! It’s not that I want to turn a blind eye, but I can’t help but wonder if all the attention is helping or hurting. It hurts me deeply every time I see an innocent animal being tortured. It’s a dilemma I battle within myself, I try to stay pawsitive and keep an open heart and yet how is that possible when I’m inundated with images and articles of such cruelty and unspeakable acts? I can’t be the only one who struggles with the feeling of wanting to look away and yet wanting to do something to help those who are suffering.
I have to wonder, is all the media attention causing even more violence? Are there those who are so depraved that they crave attention in whatever form they can find it? Are we helping these innocent animals by posting photos of their violent deaths? I don’t have the answers. But I do know that instead of circulating petitions to punish those who commit these crimes, we must find a way to stop them from happening.
Again, I’m not advocating that we simply ignore what is happening, but in order to really affect a change we must get to the root of the problem. I’m not a psychologist but I have to believe that people who commit these heinous acts must be extremely miserable, unhappy people. And the more we focus on the negative aspect of humanity, it seems the more we see. What if we focused on all of those who are making a difference? What if we flooded social media with images of animals who were rescued and are living happy lives? Would we begin to see a shift in consciousness? Would more people step up to help if only to be in the spotlight? And would that be so bad – at least more animals would be saved. Please note, this is not limited to helping animals, feel free to insert whatever you are passionate about!
And finally, what if we dug deep down inside ourselves and found forgiveness in our hearts instead of condemnation? I know that’s asking a lot – probably more than most of us are able to give. I’ll admit that once someone mistreats an animal – either by abuse or neglect – I’m the first to write them off and pass judgment.
I recently ended a friendship over this very issue. Four years ago, a couple adopted a sweet grey muzzle from my rescue on Christmas Eve. They became friends and over the years my husband and I have invited them into our home and we’ve been to theirs. When I got a text late Sunday night the week before Christmas that the husband was going to ‘put the dog down’ because she was having accidents in the house, I was beyond outraged. I literally saw red and my heart closed to these people I once considered friends. To make matters worse, when I called their vet for health records, I discovered that there were none. I questioned the wife (someone who just several weeks prior I was having brunch with on a peaceful Sunday morning), she gave me the run around. As I began to realize that this poor dog had been terribly neglected, my anger – and blood pressure – began to rise steadily. Thankfully, I was able to get the dog back into my care and she’s thriving now in a loving foster home. But, to say I was furious was an understatement. I felt betrayed, I trusted these people to take care of this innocent and loving dog and they failed her – and they failed me. And then my anger turned inward as I blamed myself for trusting them with this precious gift.
I have composed many spiteful, hate filled texts and emails to these people who haven’t even bothered to check on their dog – but I haven’t sent them. My heart has been filled with anger and it’s taken me weeks to ‘let it go’. Ok, I’ll be honest, I haven’t really let it go, it still eats at me like an insidious disease, spreading throughout my body and soul – at times, overtaking all pawsitive thoughts and feelings.
I’m working hard on forgiveness. Anger and hatred aren’t going to help this dog, nor are they going to help me save more like her who need my love and care. And all this negativity certainly isn’t going to help me, it’s only going to cause me anguish and potentially damage my overall health. If I respond with hatred, the only thing that is going to accomplish is sending out more negativity to the Universe. These people are selfish, they cultivate the ‘victim consciousness’ and if I attack, it will only further their belief that they have done nothing wrong and it’s my fault for trying to make them feel bad. So, do I just walk away and let them off the hook? I have to believe that somewhere deep inside, they know what they’ve done is wrong and they have to live with that. I truly believe that they loved this dog as much as they were capable of loving something other than themselves. They didn’t love her the way I would – I’d give my last dollar to help my beloved fur babies. I clean up ‘accidents’ in the house on a regular basis – that’s what you do when you have older animals. But that’s me – and so many amazing animal parents who love their fur babies as much as I love mine.
So, back to my original question. How do we affect change at the root level? How do we make people care? How do stop them from abusing and neglecting these innocent creatures? And most importantly, how can we be advocates for those who have no voice while still believing in and promoting the pawsitive? How can we continue to help so many who need us without doing irrevocable harm to our own hearts and psyches?
I know that the only way I can continue down this rescue path without becoming cold hearted and bitter, is to find forgiveness and compassion in my heart. To try and be a shining example, rather than judge and jury. I’m sadly aware of the fact that life isn’t all rainbows and puppies, my rose colored glasses came off long ago. But perhaps by opening our hearts to those who really need our compassion – the lonely, miserable people – we can begin to see a change. It’s a lot to ask and we won’t always get it ‘right’. We will continue to be outraged and heartbroken. But maybe if we all tried just a little bit harder to spread kindness, we can make our world a softer, gentler, more loving place.
I’m sure some reading this might think I’m just a Pollyanna without any grasp on reality. I hope others will ponder these questions and give thought to how we can affect a pawsitive change without replacing our compassion with anger and moral superiority. I think it’s a great act of courage and strength to be kind and soft hearted in the face of evil. As the Dalai Lama says, “Whenever possible, be kind. It is always possible.” Let this be our mantra and let our love shine in the darkness … who’s with me?