Most of us who practice Yoga would say we are passionately against cruelty of any kind. I like to think that I personally don’t contribute to the suffering of any being, I do my best to follow the path of ahimsa. But you can be a vegan and lead a vegan lifestyle and still despair at the animal abuse around you. However, despair and feeling helpless do not bring about positive change for the creatures that we care for. Neither does getting angry, judgemental or superior.
Probably the most exciting thing I learned from reading “Yoga and Vegetarianism” by Sharon Gannon is the concept of spiritual activism. That is, to actively work for change by caring for the happiness and freedom of all beings, victims and perpetrators included. Here in Australia, there are horrific cases of animal abuse and cruelty. Some cases are brought to light in the news, such as the breeches in live export of sheep and cattle to the Middle East and Western Australian Governments controversial shark kill policy. Yet hundreds of millions of cases are kept from our view jointly by the so-called “production animal” industries and governments that allow exemptions in animal cruelty legislation. However, just yesterday I witnessed the power of spiritual activism when I woke to the news that the Australian Capital Territory had announced a ban on cruel factory farming practices. The passing of this bill must in part be attributed to the “Make it Possible” campaign by Animals Australia, a compassionate initiative to end factory farming that garnered mass support through its inspirational television commercial and video.
The video does not blame or place guilt on the viewer, it highlights instead how the animal industries have relied on the ignorance of us consumers and our unquestioning trust in their authority. In a non-threatening manner the video then educates how each time we shop or sit down to a meal we can “cast a vote for a kinder world for animals”. I appreciate that more needs to be done for other Australian states to follow suit, but the ACT Government’s decision is proof that with compassionate but insightful activism, economic interest can be removed and enormous progress can be made for animals – more than just wallowing in despair or getting angry.
Reading Sharon’s book encouraged me to write to the animal welfare minister to ask why South Australia now can’t also end such legalised animal cruelty. Again, I appreciate this is merely a first step on a long journey…you can read my letter here and let me know if you wish to join me by writing too. Together we can peacefully and humbly make a positive and happy difference that mutually benefits all beings.