Dear friends, there is so much that could be said on so many topics, but this topic is of the most vital importance to everything and everyone. Human beings have achieved vast attainments in the fields of science, learning about the workings of cells, molecules, atoms and sub-atomic particles. We have developed medicines and vaccines to combat diseases that used to wipe out large portions of the population. We have learned how to generate electricity through various methods, and developed a myriad of technologies using this electricity, which supplement our earthly life, making survival relatively easy (for many of us) and providing luxury and entertainment.
We have developed exquisite works of art, composed fine music in a myriad of genres and styles to suit practically everyone’s taste, built beautiful works of architecture, developed numerous styles of cooking through which the simple act of taking in sustenance for survival has become more about pleasure than nutrition (even when the food is still nutritious) and so forth. And yet, so many of us live without really knowing love, and without taking care for ourselves and our fellow travellers. Now, this last bit applies not just to other humans, but also to the vast network of life on this planet, the animals and plants, and the environment which allows all of this to be; the air, the oceans and rivers and the ground beneath our feet.
Despite all the admirable achievements of mankind, we have not achieved a technological utopia, nor found real lasting happiness through our external prosperity. Certainly the ease in which we sustain ourselves has enabled us to be free of much of the physical pain and degeneration that plagued mankind up to recent times, and yet modern man is plagued by diseases of the mind, leading us into confusion, lethargy, hatred, fear, bigotry, perversion and war. The outward effects of our inward state is self-evident and can be seen everywhere, from the way we treat ourselves, to how we treat others, to our abuses of animals and our careless destruction of the plant and mineral kingdoms, to the pollution we release into the air, into the water and into the earth itself, the very things that are essential for the sustaining of all life on this planet. This need not be so.
We need to live with care and show love for all life. The very first place to start is of course with ourselves. Whilst there may be areas in our lives in which we may appear to be powerless to change, for nearly all of us there are countless things we can do that will produce immediate results to change our way of being. We need to know that we are not merely slaves to our external environment; that is, our happiness is not merely dependent upon the things that are beyond our control. Rather, true happiness emerges from knowing the pure awareness that is our true Self, the ever-shining light from which there is no fluctuation into darkness. From this space we can face the challenges of our external lives with clarity, peace, love and wisdom.
From a place of inner peace it is only natural that one would seek to uplift others, and contribute towards the highest good of all beings, all things, all life. Hence, here lies the very core problem that drives the mistreatment of our bodies and minds, other human beings, animals, plant life and the earth and the elements. That is, most human beings do not know their true Self, but rather only know themselves as their ego. As the ego we are fragile, fickle creatures that try to drag others down to uplift ourselves, competing for limited resources and wealth, holding onto grudges and painful memories, storing guilt, fear and hatred inside our bodies and minds. We make ourselves sick by what we think and feel (feeling being largely a result of what we think), what we eat and what we release into the air, water and earth. We project this sickness outwards into the world, spreading the very unhappiness that begins within the soul. However, this need not be so.
Hence, let us begin by treating ourselves with care, finding true healing within and thus becoming the beings we are destined to be. Life has an incredible capacity to develop in infinite ways, evolving or degenerating in different directions. We need to wake up and reclaim our true power and contribute positively towards life as a whole. First, we can find that wholeness within ourselves, and live every moment with vitality, clarity and true joy. From this inner place we will live lives filled with wisdom, inspiration and genius, love, compassion, grace and forgiveness, strength, humility and resilience.
This world is crying out for healing, for forgiveness and unity. We need to reach out to our families, our co-workers, and our communities and offer guidance and love to those that need it (and we can be assured that there are plenty in need). Beyond our immediate circles we need to reach out to other people in other lands, people who may have different philosophical, religious or political affiliation to us. We do not need to lay aside our own beliefs in order to aspire towards unity amongst diversity. We need to reverse the norms of the past, whereby differences of opinion have created the belief that others are our adversaries. In truth, all men are our brothers, all women our sisters. Let us show this in our actions, not merely in moments of ethical idealism.
Let us show care for the animal kingdom as well. Human beings seem to be confused as to the sentience of other forms of life. Many seem to believe that animals are not conscious, or at least they act as if they are not. It is almost as if we treat animals like AI robots, moving about with no real intelligence or capacity for feeling. The truth is obviously that animals are very much alive and conscious, though no doubt their perception of themselves and the world is different from our own. Whilst human beings certainly stand apart from the animal kingdom in so many ways, the animal world is rich with beauty, love, creativity, intelligence and so many things that show animals lead a meaningful existence of their own, not merely as the background for our own existence. Are not animals also our brothers and sisters? Are we not all part of a greater family, all sharing this beautiful environment as part of the great continuum of life?
Let us therefore treat them with kindness and dignity. Let us only take their life when driven by genuine need, for nutrition (just for the record, I am vegetarian), self-defence, environmental protection and so forth. Let us cease the murder of living things for mere sport and trophies. Where farming of animals is necessary, let us treat them with respect, giving them room to move about and live with decency, not merely as slaves existing to satisfy human greed. May we move towards open-range zoos and end the practice of keeping majestic creatures trapped in miniscule cages, which are always barely a shadow of their natural environment. To our credit, there are many wonderful men and women (and children) who care deeply about animals, and have devoted themselves to their care and preservation.
Furthermore, human beings are even more confused about the plant kingdom. We largely seem to think that plants are completely unconscious, as if they weren’t really alive. Clearly this is not so. The plant kingdom is alive and contributes much to the life of this planet. Obviously we human beings are dependent on so much of the plant kingdom for our resources, and this need not change. Fortunately, there are many great souls who campaign unceasingly to protect plant life and preserve the great beauty and richness that they bring to all life on earth.
Regarding the elements of our earth environment itself, human beings have treated them like some sort of infinite junkyard for the best part of the last several hundred years, and it is really starting to take its toll. We release numerous toxins into the air; in some parts of China simply breathing the air makes all the inhabitants the equivalent of heavy smokers. We have released countless toxic substances into the oceans, both deliberately and through numerous environmental disasters, such as oil spills or the nuclear meltdown at Fukushima. Plastic is clogging up our oceans, poisoning and even killing various species of fish and sea-birds, leaving humanity with the question of how on earth we are going to clean it up?
We have filled the earth with garbage, cut down trees, and released numerous toxins into the soil, with long-lived consequences. It is clear that we cannot simply continue doing these things. Not only must we stop with the crimes against nature, but also we must find a way to reverse our impact upon our environment, clean the air, clean the waters and clean the earth.
Whilst we should all be grateful for the resourcefulness of the human mind and the hard work performed by so many in our business and commerce world, many in these fields (and also in the wider community) seem to think that they are islands, living solely by their own self-effort. That is, many seem to be blind to the grace that is bestowed on them by their environment, without which they could not sustain themselves. We are all dependent upon the air that we breathe, the water that we drink and the earth from which our food is dependent (whether we are omnivores or herbivores).
To their credit, there are many wonderful beings that devote themselves to attempting to protect the earth, the oceans and the atmosphere. Unfortunately, as with other issues, there are also those who devote themselves to fighting against the efforts of intelligent and decent people who are seeking to right the various wrongs committed by humanity. Whilst there are some legitimate problems with mainstream progressive politics[i], and whilst I have spoken out against far-left political theory[ii], it is largely political conservatism that stands opposed to real progress in taking care for ourselves, other humans, animals, plants and the earth environment[iii].
Conservatives seek to block many attempts to lessen injustices and the suffering of other human beings, considering many such attempts to simply be indistinguishable from Communism. Conservatism largely defends the human institutions that inflict harm upon animals, and resists attempts to reform such institutions to consider the livelihood of the animal kingdom. Likewise, conservatism largely defends the institutions that inflict harm upon nature, upon plants, the land itself, the air and the rivers, lakes and oceans, and resists attempts to create new norms whereby we treasure the plant kingdom and the elements of our earth environment.
Whereas we desperately need to not only stop desecrating nature and seek to actively repair much of the damage that we have done, conservatives rally against any such attempts under the claim that environmentalists are seeking to curb human prosperity. Obviously human beings do indeed need to alter nature in many ways in order to evolve human civilization. We do need to take food from both the animal and plant kingdom (or perhaps only the plant kingdom…?), and we need various resources like water, timber, metals and other minerals. We need to generate electricity, and we need to build infrastructure and so forth.
So, what we need to do is find a balance between human civilization and the preservation of nature. We need a sustainable middle ground between expansion and conservation. I personally do not see how anybody can possibly disagree that we have gone way too far in the direction of expansion, at the expense of human injustice and great crimes against nature and her numerous expressions of life (though I do know people that do indeed contest this conclusion). From where I am standing this is self-evidence; irrefutable.
Unfortunately some conservatives think that the exact opposite is the case; that environmentalists and other left-wing activists have gone way too far in restricting human activity. I must say that I find such claims to be ultimately defending some of the greatest evils of mankind. Human rights activists have won many battles in giving the same rights and freedoms to all people, though there are indeed many legitimate battles left to wage. Environmentalists and various other activists have achieved many great things worldwide, but they have not stemmed the growth of human impact upon the myriad of life forms on this planet. Rather, it is undeniable that negative human impact upon the continuum of life has increased consistently, despite the best efforts of many righteous men and women.
I don’t take any great pleasure in critiquing conservative political ideology, and I am not afraid to concede the many flaws on the left. However, it is simply undeniable that political conservatism stands as one of the main barriers to achieving justice, equity, freedom and sustainability for all forms of life on this exquisitely beautiful planet that we call home. We need all people to lay aside their ideological attachments and really consider the significance of what we are facing. We must care for life in all its wondrous expressions, and we must be willing to act in accordance with the highest good for all.
Now, I would like to point out that we do not have to take all this personally. Some might feel I am coming across a bit preachy and holier than thou in writing all this. I would like to make it clear however that I am not seeking to put myself up personally on a pedestal in these matters. These are issues where I personally also need to learn and evolve, just like everyone else. This is as much for me as it is for everyone else. If someone points out that the way we behave causes suffering or has some negative affect on the whole of life, we do not need to take this as a personal attack. Rather, we should humbly remain open to constructive criticism of the ways things have been, open to changing our beliefs and behaviour when necessary to contribute towards a better world for all beings, and all life.
A number of notable public figures have made very strongly worded statements regarding human impact on animal life and the environment. In response I have seen some people take these statements personally, as if these warnings about the adverse affects of human activity derided every single noteworthy achievement of mankind, or our very worth, our very existence. This need not be so. One can (and should) recognize both the strengths and weaknesses of humanity; one need not necessarily contradict the other.
Human beings have many things to be rightly proud of. Likewise however, there are many things that we should not be proud of, and many things that require urgent action on a worldwide scale to correct. Humanity has its strengths and its weaknesses, and whilst we should celebrate our strengths, our weaknesses are creating suffering and injustice on many levels. To not care about this and/or not be willing to take action against these serious issues goes against our very soul, it goes against life itself.
I have at times encountered religious propaganda which considers environmentalism to be simply worship of nature, and thus blasphemy. Care and love for all creation is not blasphemy, it does not deny the Creator, but rather honours It. To the contrary, it is simply self-deceit to believe one can love God but not love and respect for God’s creation. Hence, religious (and political) conservatives that care not for the great crimes we commit against our beautiful home and its many creatures must be called out (with grace) for the hypocrisy of their views. That is, let us not get involved in personal disputes with individuals and make personal attacks against those who uphold injustice on religious (or political) ideological grounds. Rather, let us still treat them as brothers and sisters, albeit heavily misguided, whereby the stakes are so high that we must point out the error in their ways with forceful grace.
Ultimately, we human beings are falling prey to arrogance and short-sightedness if we believe we are so superior, and yet we fail to care for our fellow humans, for the animal and plant kingdoms, and the very elements necessary for all life on (and around) this planet. We are ultimately victims to a great myth, in thinking that we are the only truly sentient beings on this planet. Hence, great violence has been done with the belief that we alone are truly alive. If anyone seeks to dispute this I would recommend you watch some modern nature documentaries (such as those produced by David Attenborough). Life expresses itself in a virtually infinite variety of ways, all of which have a form of intelligence that is appropriate for its expression. Life is everywhere, in everything. This is the wondrous reality of life.
Finally, from an explicitly spiritual perspective, I would point out that all life is animated by One divine power, vast, infinite consciousness that gives life to all, and brings unspeakable peace and love when it is experienced directly. Such a thing may sound like a fantasy to those that have never experienced it directly, and one could be excused for thinking it is merely a theoretical metaphysical doctrine, the result of speculation and philosophical musing. The fact is however, that countless beings from all works of life, cultures and lands across time have experienced this directly, and allowed this vast intelligence and love to express through them, becoming illuminated through the process. I myself have been blessed with a degree of direct experience of this reality, and hence naturally wish to share the experience with others, and speak from the perspective that this gives.
Let us truly show respect for life by doing everything with care, with attention, wisdom and love.
[i] The influence of unions, as they are well known for thuggish behaviour (though they also have contributed positive things as well), lack of precision regarding comparative religion (thinking all religions are equal and that all problems in religion are simply the result of misinterpretation), unwillingness to face problems of violence amongst particular ethnic groups for fear of being considered racist etc.
[ii] I.e. pure Socialism and Communism, violent public protests and interference with public demonstrations of others (see ANTIFA), radical feminism (emphasis on the radical part; intelligent, reasonable feminism has achieved great things in Western civilization thus far, and is still needed – even more so in many non-Western nations), radical gender theory (again, emphasis on the radical part; I have previously written in support of the rights of the LGBTI community, it’s just that I also recognise that some of the theories that are popular amongst the far-left university elite can get pretty wacky) etc.
[iii] Though we should also concede that there are more moderate forms of conservatism that may take more reasonable stands on such things.