June 27, 2022

A Mahatma Gandhi Quote to Live By—Especially during these Unsettling Times.

Feeling distraught about the plight of humanity in our present day? It’s impossible not to be.

If you’re an intuitive, sensitive empath as me, you might be feeling as affected by the energy in our collective as I do. It all throws us into a state—from denial to withdrawal to overexposure—causing us to feel measures of hopelessness, frustration, and despair on any given Tuesday.

It all brings out the cultural anthropologist, philosopher, and ecopsychologist in me—my personal coping mechanisms, ways to step back and look at the world around me, analyze, and understand. I take heart knowing that ever since humanity’s arrival in primitive form four million years ago, it has always struggled for and discovered ways to survive.

That last sentence even will incite many to argue and scream creationism, a conveniently emotional position ignoring all scientific evidence in the way of the fossil record and archaeological artifacts. In whichever ways you attribute the findings, the evidence is there for the observing.

So be it. The point is, humanity has undergone evolutions of change and revolutions of being for millennia. It may feel as though we’ve forever been in conflict. Indeed, our record of wars and invasions, right up to the present day, support such aphorisms.

There exist a myriad of ways of observing and interpreting our primal tendency to battle each other over resources, everything from water to oil to land to food. There are measures for how we perceive and treat each other, the choices each one of us makes to act in any given moment.

Do we help the mentally ill homeless man with his rescue mutt living in a tent along Boulder Creek, prohibited by shelter policies barring animals?

Do we argue in front of city council members that expanding our homeless shelter or funding community-centered sanctuaries Ala Austin, Texas, will depreciate our property values?

Do we load up the beloved family dog into the Escalade and drive him to the San Antonio/San Angel/anywhere in Texas shelter on a Saturday morning, standing in line with dozens doing the same and surrender him knowing they will kill him for lack of space?

Do we sign petitions to MoveOn protesting the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade or send emails to our congressmen demanding stricter gun laws in the wake of the Uvalde shooting?

The choices we make in any given moment, all rely on one thing: our value system. Our moral compass, our ethics—name it what you will.

It all comes down to how we treat ourselves, and thusly, each other. How we treat each animal in our presence, each natural ecosystem as a forest or a river we chance by. In every encounter we’re given in life, the opportunities for personal choice lie in front of each and every one of us.

Personal choice. And by that, I don’t mean whether or not we should proceed to terminate a pregnancy. Personal choice—in all of these moments where we exercise our inherent freedom and way of being—will determine our humanity.

The question before each and every one of us at this time and as a collective body of life is: How will we decide where our humanity is going?

Humbly, as an animal lover watching the choices and behavior in our culture at large in this time, I invoke the words of Gandhi:

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

Namaste, meaning I honor the light within you.

I’ll add, I honor the light within us all, to make heartfelt, compassionate, selfless, and mindful choices on behalf of all of life struggling to live in these tumultuous, transformational times.

For me, those relinquished dogs standing in line in Texas just hoping to live through the day.


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