It all started this morning after my silent meditation. I could hear the doves in the tree above me. I remember bird’s songs by putting English words to what their songs sound like. These doves were saying “I don’t know why”. The doves in Arizona sang “My brother says…” This morning I could also hear the difference in the individual birds. Not every “I don’t know why” was the same. It is so hard to think of another species as individuals. Like any group that we are not familiar with…..another race, another religion, etc. If we group them all together, it is easy to disregard them as a group and needlessly cause them suffering or kill them. It has happened throughout history and continues today. If Jews were seen as individuals rather than a group, the holocaust would not have happened. If Africans had been seen as individuals rather than a group, they would not have been captured and sold into slavery. If cows were seen as individuals, rather than a species that we are allowed to own, they would most likely not become property that we abuse and slaughter for food.
For most people, not all, dogs and cats are our familiars. We see them as distinct individuals and because of this, most people in this country would not eat them.
You can, more often than not, find people who are Dog Lovers and Cow Eaters, Horse Lovers and Pig Eaters, etc. The animal lovers who actually just love the ones whom they have known as individuals or can see as individuals.
We can easily disregard the lives of an entire species because we do not have experience or connection with an individual in that group. And the opposite is also true: If someone has a connected experience with an individual in a group they once disregarded, they can be changed forever.
Think about a group of humans or non-humans that you have strong judgments about….maybe you even hate them. Most likely you do not have a connection with an individual in that group.
What I find surprising is that individual humans from groups that are typically oppressed as a group (because of race, sexual orientation, religion, etc) are often not open to learning about (and acting on) how their daily actions oppress others (especially other species). Many people in typically oppressed groups do not want to hear anything about the well-being of other species we use for food, testing, entertainment, etc.
I want to be seen as an individual. We all do. I do not want to be grouped together with all women, all humans, all Caucasians, all vegans, all animal rights activists, all environmentalists, all yoga practitioners, all people over 50, all RVers, all Jews, etc. I want to be seen and heard as the unique individual that I am. All beings want this. No one, not one being, wants to be disregarded, violently beaten or killed for no good reason.
Even the tiniest among us fights for his life. Try to swat a fly to demonstrate this for yourself. He will try to escape.
We all seek LIFE.
How would our lives be different if we looked at a group of birds or cows or sheep or pigs and saw individuals rather than a species? How would our lives be different if we looked at any group of people and saw individuals, rather than the group?