Yesterday, I read this long Facebook post that was widely shared. It caught my attention because it had the vibe of being inspirational, what changemakers do, how a first-world citizen comes to a third world country to do work that matters. It didn't take long for me to see the disconnection. This person wrote about "researching slaughter techniques" and "slaughtering chickens with his own hands" not only in a business-as-usual tone, but in a tone with much pride, that suggested he genuinely felt he was doing valuable work. He mentioned that he had "50 mothers, 50 homes, 200 brothers and sisters". He referred to them as "friends" when he wrote "dear friends, you will feed this country with healthy meat and eggs".
I felt a profound disconnection in that post in our relationship with nature. What I consider home is a safe place; a mother someone who does her best to nurture her children; brothers and sisters my equals; friends those whom I care about. Anyone I call a mother or a brother or a sister or a friend is someone I would choose not to harm, someone who I would not, as the post said "slaughter with my own hands".
Why is it that a person who seemingly wants to do good ends up inflicting so much pain on others? It's because as we have domesticated others and kept them physically imprisoned, we have ourselves ended up spiritually detached. Let me be clear that being spiritual does not necessarily mean chanting Hare Krishna or having complete attendance at Sunday church or shaking hands with the pope or getting a hug from Amma, to be spiritual means to connect to anyone who breathes as a spirit, and to acknowledge them as such.
If we are wild enough to see other beings as spirits with life in them instead of things to be used and exploited, we will lose any motivation to harm them. We will not hold them hostage or give them a false sense of security before killing them or find better ways to exploit them and think of it as noble. We will lose that condescending attitude of "look what I am doing for you" and instead just place ourselves in their position, to have empathy, to have compassion-- to "suffer with". Compassion, not charity. Love, not condescension.
In a world ridden with wars of all kinds, it is time we become wildly connected. It is time that we wildly provoke ourselves to feel as others feel. In the process, we will get to reclaim our own wildness, having a deep understanding that in order to be free, we must let other beings be free. There is nothing noble about intentionally harming someone, but there is something brave about acknowledging our distorted perceptions and taking action to right our wrongs.
May ALL BEINGS everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that freedom and to that happiness for all.