By Jenna Bardroff
If you are involved in academics or any vocation, you will hear your professors, bosses, colleagues, peers, family, and friends discussing the importance of “making connections.” This typically means socially interacting with other people who may have the ability to better your professional circumstances or benefit you in some way. As Green Monsters, we mean making much deeper connections – connections between humans and our cultures, other animals, and the environment. Connections that can help us see the entire picture behind an individual issue and make us better equipped to act on a solution.
How will making connections solve our problems, you ask? Today, through the perspectives of some environmental, animal, and even human protection activists, the reputation of the human species has become very negative. Our species, especially in American culture, has been recognized for being gluttonous consumerists, violent abusers of our own and other species, and professional environmental destructionists. But before we start pointing fingers and blaming others or ourselves for the world’s many modern dilemmas, let’s take a moment to think about how we got where we are today … No positive change comes from problems – it evolves through solutions.
Thousands of years ago, humans may have actually been known as the “keepers” of ecosystems. Our species played a significant role in the environment, similar to all other species of animals. Humans helped to keep and maintain balanced biodiversity, foraged for food, and built their own shelters out of natural resources.
As time progressed, obviously dramatic changes in the relationship between humans and their environment occurred. As skillfully adaptive creatures, humans continue to experience exponential change, especially in relatively recent years (e.g. industrial revolution). So, instead of making “connections”, our species could be needing reconnection – to the environment, to each other, and to our compassion and respect for other animals.
Connecting With Each Other
If we do not express compassion for our own species, how can we truly expect to save the world? Compassion starts with us and yes, that partly means paying close attention to solutions for improving human rights. It also means making compassionate conscientious decisions for how we connect with other people. Perhaps it means broadening our own perspectives and using empathy instead of judgment. Through applying humane education (click here to learn more), we can learn to become more aware of our words and actions, and how they affect other people.
- Share our knowledge of discriminatory behaviors.
- Participate in simple random acts of kindness and encourage others to do the same.
- Be entrepreneurs for social justice.
- Volunteer as leaders and activists for human rights.
- Organize groups to feed those who are hungry and provide innovative shelters to those who are homeless.
- Write letters to the local, state, and federal government to improve human quality of life.
- Make a difference whoever or wherever we are.
We CAN…change the world for people.
Connecting With Non-Human Animals
Take a moment to search through One Green Planet’s many articles regarding animal protection. You will notice there are many sad stories, but you will also find numerous stories of hope, inspiration, connection, and compassionate interactions between humans and non-human friends. You will also find many solutions that YOU can help make possible.
Humanitarian Albert Schweitzer believed, “Anyone who has accustomed [her/himself] to regard the life of any living creature as worthless is in danger of arriving also at the idea of worthless human lives.” Many studies have revealed that child and domestic abuse is often linked to a history of animal cruelty. In 2006, almost 400 cases of domestic violence also involved maltreatment of animals. Therefore, how we treat animals could be a reflection of how we treat each other.
There are also studies of how positively interacting with companion animals can enhance our compassion and empathy. The long-term physical, mental, and emotional health benefits of compassionate connections between humans and non-human animals have been documented for well over 100 years. More....