I was talking the other day to a friend about how challenging it is to write about the things that I do.
It’s important…I feel compelled to do this work.
A passionate animal lover herself, she could appreciate the sentiment. All activists can. We are all answering a call from some deeper place. We are all serving a love for animals so profound we can hardly tolerate the pain inflicted them. We are driven to protect, guided by a higher power even, advocating for them to have a life free of suffering and radical, deep, primal, happiness. Happiness of the everlasting kind.
Don’t we all want that, for the ones we love?
Being in activism means connecting emotionally, delving in psychologically, into things that are devastatingly sad and disappointing. It means paying attention to the ugliness of humanity and the effects of the things they do. It means, also, not letting one’s spirit get too heavy with the weight of all that ugliness. It means actively seeking a balance to the wrongs. (I’ve never been great at this part; it’s not for lack of trying.)
Yep. Being an animal advocate or activist can make you just a wee bit crazy. You start to become embittered, posting things about people like that “POS did such-and-such” and wondering why people are turned away. It’s hard to sustain our sanity or our civility in activism, hold tight to that sunny optimism, when your world is filled with all that news of the evil things people can do.
What helps? I try to expand my perspective. I look up at the sky. I breathe deeply before I turn to the images and the happenings. I take in the big picture. I squint to find the goodness rising to the top in all that mucky-messy cauldron of pain. In those moments, I can see them:
the workers in the Texas or New Mexico shelters, cradling the puppies and walking the dogs, making the calls to the rescue organizations,
We have eleven today, we think they will be great Colorado dogs, can you come get them?
the volunteers driving the vans twelve hours north from Texas or New Mexico, or the pilots volunteering their Cessnas and their hours to retrieve the vulnerable,
the Director of Homecomings Dog Rescue, nursing parvo-stricken puppies back to health in her own basement, before they venture further out into the world.
If I squint even harder, I can notice, too:
the fosters opening up their own homes to take them all in, walk them in the wee hours, clean up their biologically-derived messes before they leave for work that morning.
And when I open my eyes and heart wide, I can feel into the ultimate grace for it all:
the thousands of people opening their hearts and minds, their living rooms and their backyards, to give them furever homes. (Yep, people who rescue animals are my especially favorite people, indeed.)
When I pause to remember the cycle of rescuing homeless dogs and cats is just that: A cycle, the goodness percolates through the failings. The response to the bad is overwhelmingly healing and good, nearly always. For me, when I can see beyond the darkness that can be the pain and suffering of animals and realize that it is changing (albeit slowly) for the better, my heart feels warmer and my spirit, just a little bit lighter.
That many are now answering the bark of the Shepherd mutt or squeak of the Pug mix or the yip of the Border blend for a second chance at a happy life, gives me paws, indeed. It gives me, also, a second chance to see the work in a different way, and somewhere in that process, hope for humanity gets a second chance, too…
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