Animal Testing: Beagles

Passing right by the fact that I haven’t written in over a year, I want to share some information I’ve been reading tonight about animal testing, specifically testing on beagles.

This will be short and sweet and mainly used to bring all of the info together and share it with my friends and fellow animal-lovers. Otherwise I’d be posting FB after FB.

I came across this story tonight:

University of Missouri researchers blinded, killed six beagles for inconclusive study

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Need I say it? It’s sad. And it raises questions of the reasoning behind our insistence on animal experimentation. It does this in part because when you really find out what some of the “important” scientific investigations do to animals, it challenges you ask yourself what that kind of pain, trauma, and wasted life is worth. It’s like watching slaughterhouse videos and then considering how important that hamburger is really.

Then I saw this article:

Beagles bred at two Dane County facilities go to labs around the country

This one hit home because Dane County is where I now call home, specifically Madison. It is hard being back in the midwest sometimes, hard being in the dairy capitol of the world, hard to not have all the vegan options at my fingertips like I did on the west coast, hard to not have the same vigorous animal rights groups as I’ve known. But I don’t mind being part of the progress happening all over the nation. There is progress happening here.

But when I read that in my county is one of the top three international beagle breeding facilities, Ridglan Farms, well it’s just a bummer. A big, heartbreaking bummer. Ridglan sells its beagles to (mainly) U.S. companies who conduct experiments for various purposes, mostly pharmaceutical labs and university labs. University of Wisconsin has been a customer. Some especially heartbreaking bummer-facts about Ridglan:

  • Puppies born at Ridglan who aren’t born to the physical specifications they are looking for are killed.
  • However, they also “preprogram” (read: breed) beagles to have certain defects to fit what the researchers are hoping to “treat.” For example heart abnormalities, circulatory problems, cataracts…
  • “…there are more than 67,000 dogs used in laboratories today across the country. Wisconsin is home to 7,196 of these dogs, more than any other state.”
  • Most of the dogs there are females who breed their whole lives. (Here is where an entire article about the connection between feminism and animal rights would go.)
  • The vast majority of dogs who are used in research are euthanized even if they would be adoptable.
  • In addition to having a nice size for cruel experimentation, beagles surpass any other breed in research because “they’re very docile, people-pleasing and forgiving.”

I hope you’ll just read these two articles. So many questions. What about the ethics of doing something because we CAN? Even it does have merit in the eyes of our culture and considering our position as human animals (the best kind of animal apparently), what is the cost. What are we establishing for our children in terms of their relationship with animals? What kind of karma are we engaging in…yes, I’ll go there. What kind of speciesism is going on behind the scenes when we care about this happening to beagles but not rodents?

But mostly right now I just feel like: What have we done? When did we become so callous? When did we turn into creatures that could look at something “docile, people-pleasing, and forgiving” and think, “Let’s breed it to hurt it.”

To find out more, please read those articles. For some hope you can check out the Beagle Freedom Project. And maybe next time you’re looking for a new pooch to add to your family, consider rescuing a beagle…you’ll know he’s done his time by the tattooed numbers on the inside of his ear.

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Revilers Will Revile…and then nothing changes

Oh my gosh, I’m starting a post with a dictionary entry. What’s become of me??

REVILE verb (used with object), reviled, reviling.

1. to assail with contemptuous or opprobrious language; address or speak of abusively.

In this post you’ll read the word “revile” a lot. I chose it over “hate” because “hate” has lost its punch if you ask me. And the meaning I am looking for is to regard someone with boiling contempt, to despise them, or to wish them ill-will, so “revile” seemed a better fit. I also liked, “despise.”

Okay, read on…..

Did you hear about the cow who ran for her life? Literally? Well, she lost it in the end anyway. Here is the whole story.

Just like many other people (there were 1,488 comments on MFAs FB post of this story last I checked), I was disappointed about how the situation was handled. I think there must be better ways to deal with a loose cow than to shoot it dead, right? I also feel sad for the cow since its story represents a fight for freedom, the saga of an underdog and because it suffered. I am tempted to villainize the police officer who shot the cow, (especially because the picture gets me emotionally revved up) and to appoint him as a “bad person” in my mind.

I said I am tempted.

I’m writing this post to suggest that despite that strong urge, it is absolutely necessary to check my revile-o-meter level and get a grip. Because when revilers revile, nothing changes. 

Let me give you an example. Here are some comments that were made on the Facebook post of the story:

MFA FB posts

That is some of the more moderate reviling that was there. These don’t represent all of the comments of course. Most of the commenters were simply sad and frustrated and incredulous as to why the cow wasn’t simply tranquilized or corralled.

It is these types of comments though that I am writing about today. What does that kind of thinking and expressing accomplish? And I don’t mean for the cow…I mean for our evolution as a species for goodness sakes!! I agree that we are an incredibly violent species. I agree that we are complicit in impossibly egregious actions against animals through our indifference and disinterest. But I also believe that each and every one of us is capable of doing horrible things depending on what our path has been. But for the grace of God, and so on.

We are submerged in a culture that inundates us with messages of violence, consumerism, competition, fear, and selfishness. We are constantly hypnotized into believing that these things are the truth and other ideas of reality are considered ridiculous and feeble. There are simply people out there who do not know that this does not have to be the way it is. Can revilers not see that they are just adding to the suffocating culture of separateness that is the problem? A slaughterhouse worker says, “F*** you, cow,” and you say, “F*** you, slaughterhouse worker.” What’s the difference?? You, the cow, and the slaughterhouse worker are ALL the same. Let’s get up and above all this status quo reviling! Let’s recognize the interconnective repercussions that our thoughts and intentions have! We are not going to change a thing by spreading more of the same.

*sigh* I wrote about this in the past regarding the Taiji dolphin hunt. I think I write about it because I have a hard time believing in the good of people. I have a hard time trusting people. I have a hard time not giving into the temptation to revile. So I’m writing to myself also. Because I know that when I agree to not send that hateful energy to a person I have never and will never meet, whose life and struggle I cannot know, I feel better. I feel more powerful, not less. I am more of Self and less of ego. That is when change can happen. And we need some serious change don’t we?

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Before I go, I want to recognize that I haven’t posted the next installment of The Untethered Soul review this week. I was planning on it tonight, but as you can see I got on a soapbox and couldn’t get down. 😉 Don’t worry though…it’s coming soon!

Love from a recovering reviler,

~~~S Wave~~~

Your Weekend To-Do (Good) List!

The weekend To-Do (Good) List returns this weekend to give you some suggestions for ways to include altruism and activism, introspection and evolution, compassion and connection in your weekend!

1. Good for the Animals

The Performing Animals Welfare Society provides a new home to animals who have been used (and frequently abused) in the entertainment industries. One of their residents needs a little help and it couldn’t be an easier assignment for you! Here is their request:

Ferguson, PAWS macaque, has become more ape-like as he reaches middle age. A few years ago he began destroying his mattresses so we decided to provide him with disposable beds made of paper or straw stuffed inside a pillowcase. We now have an ongoing need for used pillowcases. If you have used pillowcases you would like to donate to Ferguson, please mail them to our Galt office at P. O. Box 849, Galt, CA 95632.

2. Good For Others

The Greater Good Science Center just added an article about the importance of social connection for the lives of seniors. How can you take some time out of your busy weekend to be that connection for them?

Here are some ideas:

– Schedule a visit to a local retirement community…if you’ve got a skill to share, share it! My Grandmother enjoys it when visitors come to her assisted living community to perform, visit, bring their therapy animals, join in game night, etc. Be creative! Maybe you can simply bring some flowers to distribute door to door. Or a St. Patrick’s Day token. Or offer to drive a resident to run some errands or attend church.

– Call a senior you know! Take time to really listen to them. A phone call may not fulfill their need for daily community, but for that hour you will be a welcomed connection. Don’t know any senior who might appreciate a call?….Nah, I don’t believe you.

– Establish a plan to incorporate your senior loved ones into your family routine more consistently. Build that “village” that we know benefits our kids, our elders, and ourselves.

3. Good For You

Take a lesson from St. Patrick! Did you know that St. Patrick was taken captive from Roman Britain when he was a teen and kept in Ireland for 6 years in servitude until he escaped? In some of his writing he said:

The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was rosed, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers and in the night, nearly the same. … I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain.

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As part of your To-Do (Good) assignment I suggest you spend some time meditating on what you can learn from his experience. I don’t want to be too leading here since it will be YOUR meditation, but I’ll just say that you don’t have to be a catholic to relate to his revelation.

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Have a wonderful weekend! Make sure to report back on any other good things you added to your

To-Do (Good) list. We would love to hear them!

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Month 5: Connection

Without fear, we are able to see more clearly our connections to others.
Without fear, we have more room for understanding and compassion.
Without fear, we are truly free.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

Welcome to the midpoint of 2013! June brings all kinds of newness with school ending, weather shifting, summer’s potential blossoming, and for me it brings me to a new Here I Am intention. What is Here I Am? Good question. Even I have to remind myself of its purpose and realign myself with the intention behind it. As I defined it before, “It was an inventory of things that I would like to add or alter in my life,” and it is the journey of exploring those things one at a time.

My original Here I Am list looked like this:

My list of intentions

My list of intentions

The philosophy behind Here I Am is that it is not necessary to address these things with a heavily legalistic, reward-punishment type of approach to change but through a gentle acceptance of where you are now in life and a childlike curiosity for what it might be like to change the status quo for about a month. So far, I have contemplated and explored my physical health, a sneaky addiction, spiritual vitality, and non-snoozification.

Now it is time to pick the next intention off of my list. If you wonder how I pick them, it is based on a combination of my intuition and the signs that surround me. Together, these guideposts tell me pretty clearly what needs my attention next. And the winner for this month is….Connection!

By “connection” I don’t just mean having closer friends, although that is part of it. I also mean that I want deeper connections with friends–new and old. I want that depth to be spiritual and to serve as a vehicle for growth and good. I also want to feel a connection of love for those I don’t know and especially for those that I specifically have a hard time loving. I want to release myself–at least for this month–to trust people more and to accept my own worth to be connected TO! I want to feel more   community with like-minded people. But most of all, I want to act on my belief that these connections are made not only through my human effort, but also through the laws of attraction that draw us together. Acting on this belief means trusting and expecting that I will see new connections emerging in my life as I intentionally make myself available to them.

So off I go. Here’s to a great month of connection and as always, growth growth growth. I wish for all of you to also experience  an expansion of your own connection to others. Let’s expect together!

Be well!

~~~S Wave~~~

The Opposite of Love

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.

– Saint John

We teach that hate is the opposite of love, but I’ve been thinking that it is actually fear that is the opposite.

As I was writing about the things I want to transcend, I realized that most of the things that we want to overcome can be reduced down to a fear. Let’s say, for example, that I want to overcome a concern about what others think of me. That’s reasonable. But where does that concern come from in the first place? Fear, right? Fear that if someone thinks something negative then I’ll be shunned, rejected, left. So isn’t it really from the fear that I would have to be liberated first?

Fear, though, gets forgotten as our attention and our “treatments” gets directed to what are really just the manifestations of the fear. We end up being held back from knowing the fullness of our Selves and the beauty of our dreams because the underlying fear isn’t addressed. Imagine if that fear was gone. What if the prospect of rejection, neglect, and abandonment just wasn’t scary in the first place? What if you weren’t scared of loss, of death, of pain? Sounds pretty liberating.

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In my experience, the first step to getting free from fear is recognizing that it’s there. When you think you are upset by something, try being still and asking our mind and your body what they are really scared of. Accept the answer you get without judgement and with great compassion. Connect with your belief in a higher power that is interested only in your greatest good. Then you are ready to begin to let that fear go.

Some fears are easy to change simply by CHOOSING to believe in something different. For example, if I declare that I believe in all things working together for good, it is much easier for me to release the fear of failure, because even “failures” must be part of the good that is unfolding. They lose their power.

Other fears of course aren’t so easy to let go of. The process might be longer, but it is the same in principle. No matter what your belief system is, if you sit with compassion and listen to the pain that resides in you, asking it what it needs and offering YOUR love to it, I believe that it must dissipate. Because love does cast out fear.

Media credit: Leah Piken Kolidas

Media credit: Leah Piken Kolidas

Besides your own liberation and accessibility to your dreams, there is another benefit to realizing that fear is the opposite of love: you begin to have more compassion for others.

I have someone in my life who must have been sent to teach me about loving others! I sometimes find this person to be condescending or dismissive toward me which then triggers sensitivities in me and make me feel hostile toward her. It’s a terrible, but common cycle. This morning, as I was thinking about my experiences with her, these realizations about fear  entered my mind at the same time and I realized that the two are related. I realized that just as I have fears that lead me to operate in less than love, so too does everyone.

As I reconceptualize her condescension as a product of fear–hers and mine–I can feel compassion for the two of us. We become reduced to our essences…two souls traveling in this journey on Earth together and navigating our experiences with our own level of consciousness at this point in time and space. Separateness becomes comradery. We’re in this together! Why be cells that are battling against each other when we can come together and form something new??

Of course she may not have the same realization, but suddenly that doesn’t matter. I recognize and express gratitude for our connection and I embrace her in a protective, prayerful energy that genuinely desires her highest good. It feels good to be free. And to let her be free as well.

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I have been receiving a lot of wonderful, simple insights during my times of prayer and meditation. I post these most frequently on our Facebook page so don’t forget to visit us there. You are all such joy to me. May you be free from fear today!

Stir up the love!

It has been interesting to look back at some of the posts I’ve written relating to animals and to compare them to our mission statement. Sometimes my attitude when writing about animals doesn’t quite reflect the magnanimous tenants that those of us on Life As a Wave believe in. I think to myself, “Will people read the mission statement and then wonder how I can be hating on the king of Spain or factory farm workers?!”

I know that at the gut level it is hard for me to feel anything but disgust toward people who are exploiting or abusing animals; it is next to impossible to feel that I am connected to them on some metaphysical level as two waves of the same grand ocean. Yet from time to time I am inclined to step back and ask myself to check in with that contempt and judgment that I harbor for them. Are those people not me? Am I not them? Don’t I exist only as part of their existence?

Hold on. That’s too deep for right now…It’s almost 1am for goodness sakes. Let’s start again.

Basically, it is good to love. So yes, I love animals. I can love my loving neighbor. I can love my family. But can I love the (alleged) enemy in this scenario? Can I love the people who are performing vivisection? Or who are skinning animals alive for fur?  Are they really even my enemy? (By the way, sometimes when I see my own writing style I think I should just rename this blog, The Blog of Important Rhetorical Questions.) When I step out of my gut and get into that place of higher self I realize that there is love in me for them. It takes work to plug into it and it may be just a fraction of its potential, but it is there. I don’t like what they do and I would take action to make them stop but I don’t hate their essence…because I truly think it springs from the same source as mine. We are not so different.

I can feel compassion and sorrow for them. I can acknowledge my ignorance of their experiences and pains. I can wish for them better. I can hope for them joy and peace and happiness…just like I hope those for myself. It does my soul good to remember all of this. It stirs up my Love. And I want to act out of Love. I don’t want my advocacy to become aggression, neither mental nor physical. And I don’t want my compassion to diminish. I don’t want to vilify.

I recently heard a sermon given by Ishmael Tetteh in which he used the following analogy to describe our existence:

“Every wave comes into being by the collective power of the entire ocean.”

One wave would not be, were it not for every other wave. And every other wave would be be were it not for that one. Obviously this reminded me of our blog. And thinking about our mission statement–about what it means to live this life as a wave–is what led me think about all of this that I’m now writing. My new mantra, solemnly taped to by bathroom mirror, is:

“I come into being by the collective power of the entire universe.”

This is true moment by moment and eternally. I believe it. I believe I come into being through connection to every other person, galaxy, drop of rain, tree, animal, and ocean wave. So I guess it’s not too deep after all to ask about people “Don’t I exist only as part of their existence?” My best conclusion right now is, Yes.

Brother’s Keeper

Excuse a brief diversion from animal rights for a moment. Let’s zoom out to the larger question of compassion at large…….

I work in Hollywood. Today there was a man walking down the street 2 blocks from my office building. He pulled out his gun and began shooting into the air. He shouted, “Kill me!” Then he began shooting at passing cars. This was at a major thoroughfare in downtown Hollywood…Sunset and Vine. The police were called and the man was killed in the street.

Everyone outside was abuzz. Police were everywhere and the area was blockaded all day. But besides the “what if’s” that we all talk about in these situations, there are other great concerns that this incident brought to my mind.  You see, yes, I’m horrified that someone would do this. But I’m also horrified about this human crying out and demanding to be killed. Tell me, what leads to that?? Is it just me, or is that horrifying? When I hear about this kind of thing, part of my compassion goes to the offender himself as well as to the offended. Some might say a person who can draw a gun and shoot at strangers doesn’t deserve compassion. Who gets to decide, then, where the flow of compassion stops? I certainly don’t want that responsibility! I would rather heed the compassion that I feel inside my gut and follow it where it takes me.

In this case, it took me to wondering about our society. Wondering how people can go from uncorrupted and guiltless babies to men and women wailing for their own demise through voice and vice. I fear that if we see our middle class disappear anymore than it already has, we will be bracing ourselves against more “kill me” shooters, senior robbers, identity thieves, safe surrenders of babies, on and on and on. In other words, more individual and group desperation leading to more poverty-related acts including crimes. What is it called? The strain theory? More socioeconomic strain –> more anger –> more crime.

If I truly believe that I am connected to every Other, then I am intertwined not only with Gandhi, with Martin Luther King, and the heroes of 911, but also with the men who killed them. I am intertwined not only with the man who robs a bank to feed his starving family but the man who robs a bank to feed his heroine addiction. I’ve heard of a man who lives in Colorado, named Ed. He is debilitated, maybe homeless. He is probably repulsive to most and very likely lonesome. He’s a genius though. He used to work as a physicist. If I am happy to consider myself connected to the Ed of the past—the educated scientist—am I equally happy to be connected to the Ed of today? Are you?

I remember in 2004 I was living in Chicago and heard of a young woman who attempted to kill herself. She was driving on Dempster and accelerated through traffic, crashing into other cars. She lived, but others were injured…possibly killed, I can’t remember anymore. I felt such compassion for this girl thinking of the desperation she must have felt. Others thought her evil. I understand why they say that, but I cringed to hear it. Each of us has the potential to fall into such desperation that we have no twig on which to clasp our groping hand.  No one expects to be there when they are beginning out in this world. How many of the 45 million Americans living in poverty planned to be there? Were I to be in that place of desperation I would hope that someone would be there to take hold of my wrist.

Where has the compassion gone in our politics? In our budget? In our worldview? How did one man end up so tormented, lost, desperate and/or angry that he asked to be killed in the middle of the street on December 9th?

I will keep stirring up that compassion in myself even when it seems misplaced to others.  I have a feeling this world is going to need it one day.