To ponder our relational lives
The most interesting people are those that are different in how they perceive the world. That is why I believe it is good to have a wide range in our relationships. I have a friend; his name is Marco, who I believe is very different from me in how he looks at the world. His sharing’s, his insights have always helped me to rethink some of my entrenched positions that were more or less unconscious.
Good friends should make us uncomfortable from time to time, for there is almost always a certain level of uneasiness and at times anxiety when our world views are expanded; when we discover that there is more to ponder. We are relational creatures and our interactions with other human beings and with the world around us can either be constructive or destructive. Perhaps most of us fall into some kind of middle zone, a twilight kind of existence until our comfortable cages are rattled a bit.
I am not sure any of us are ‘free thinkers’. I have never met any, for we each have to pick up a central thread, a story, that we base our inner direction, our thinking lives on. However, there are some who I believe are freer than others in how they face the realities of our world and also its uncertainties. The reason I think Marco may be very close to being a free thinker, is how he relates to me and others who are perhaps more devout and theistic in their beliefs than he may be. I don’t feel boxed in with him and shelved. He seems to be more comfortable than most of us with ambiguity and doubt. He is not a black and white thinker, a rarity I believe, that is one reason I value him so much.
Recently he has sent out to his more than a few friends some articles that deal with cruelty towards animals. He also showed in his commentary on the articles how deeply committed he is to the proper treatment of animals and their rights. I was amazed at his deep emotional commitment to this cause. I can’t say I agree with all that he says about ’animal rights’, but for a few months now I find myself going back and thinking about my own relationship with the world around me and my interaction with my so called ‘lower brothers and sisters’. All of our relationships, be it with others (perhaps the most important), as well as our interactions with animals and nature, are very important and if not thought about and prayed over can lead to a ripple effect that has serious repercussions.
Objectification; to reduce people, nature and animals to mere objects is a great source of suffering in our world. Not sure about Global Warming, open to the possibility, but that is not needed for us to look around and see the mess that is made of our world in the many areas of our still beautiful planet. Or the cruelty that we often use towards the animals that we use for food, as well as the health issues for humans that flow from our diet.
The worst of course is how we treat one another. I certainly have a cruel, mean, angry aspect of myself that I am constantly seeking to have a better more gentle relationship with. For how I relate to myself is how I will relate to others.
Today there seems to be a great need to find something outside of ourselves and hate. It could be religion and God for atheist, or homosexuals for a certain segment of my own faith, blacks against whites, men against women, and women against men, and of course there is left against right. We actually treat each other worse than we do the world around us and animals. However to begin to have a more gentle relationship with our environment may actually lead to a more gentle and loving attitude towards our fellow human beings. An oblique way I know, but it seems to work.
I don’t believe in animal rights. I do believe strongly that we should not be cruel to them, cause them unnecessary pain, or use them for cosmetics purposes. We have the higher brain, we have a self awareness that ‘seems’ to be found nowhere else in nature, so I think that puts a certain responsibility on us in our relational lives in how we treat the rest of the animal kingdom. It is obvious that animals have awareness, emotions and needs, especially those we domesticate. To be cruel to them, I believe leads to a deeper cruelty towards people in general. It is all interconnected and important for us to understand. If not, I think that the unraveling that is happened today will continue and am fearful to where that leads.
Thanks Marco for giving me the gift of seeking to more deeply understand my relationship with the world around me…. to at least to becoming more conscious about animal rights, as well as how that interplays with my relationships with the people in my life and perhaps most importantly, my interaction with myself.