hugging salt shakers

It’s Be Kind to Animals week, and we at YDV are taking the opportunity all week to share some ways we can be kind to various non-human friends.

On my semi-daily walk earlier this week, I watched the other people on the path at my local park. Some were walking with companions (canine or human), some were running, some were biking and some were roller-blading. Some faces were familiar, but most were not. I like to hide on my walks, behind a giant pair of sunglasses and a giant pair of headphones. I feel safer behind these barriers, especially if I’m listening to a podcast that’s especially upsetting or a song that’s particularly sad. It’s easy to get wrapped up in one’s own life sometimes – ok, most of the time – and forget that we are all going through our own struggles and traveling our own journeys.

My family is going through an incredibly stressful and scary time right now. It’s very easy to take it out on others – the people in power who won’t help, the politicians and corporate businesses who don’t improve things, and even each other. Fighting for something, fighting for one or for many, can be exhausting. The bureaucratic red tape caused by health care and public assistance in this country is enough to knock even the most determined fighter down.

My family’s struggle may be difficult for us, but it’s worth remembering that there are others struggling, and all of us – all of us – could use a little kindness.

Veganism is about doing the least harm, and about compassion. Being kind to animals – human and nonhuman – is at the heart of that. We are only on this planet (which also deserves kindness!) for a short time in the grand scheme of things. Isn’t connection the most important aspect of that time? Those of us who are lucky enough to share our lives with others, in one way or another, are richer for it. What we must remember is to share that wealth – through our actions, each and every day.

Be kind to all of the animals in your lives: to the dog who waits for you excitedly at the door each evening, to the cat that lays in your lap at night. Be kind to the family of geese crossing the road in front of your car, to the birds who are nesting in the tree outside your front door. Be kind to the waitress who serves you your next meal, to the cashier at the express checkout lane who asks you what that green bunch of leaves is as he rings you up. Be kind to your omnivore friends who are at their own point in this journey. Be kind to your family, even if they drive you crazy, because tomorrow isn’t promised. Be kind to yourself, because, while you are an animal, you are also human, and you’re still figuring it all out.

Thank you for listening.

Photo credit: Harlan Harris via Flickr