A post in an online discussion group showed the photo of a primate in captivity, looking very forlorn. A natural, immediate response is compassion for the animal and perhaps some dismay or anger towards the humans who imprisoned it.
The post included a quote attributed to Albert Schweitzer:
We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty with which we treat the animals. Animals suffer as much as we do. True humanity does not allow us to impose such sufferings on them. It is our duty to make the whole world recognize it. Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace.
A Wikipedia article expands my previous understanding of what compassion means by explaining nuances between compassion, empathy and sympathy and touching on self-compassion for greater psychological health:
'Self-compassion is a process of self kindness and accepting suffering as a quality of being human. It has positive effects on subjective happiness, optimism, wisdom, curiosity, agreeableness, and extroversion...
'For increasing compassion in the workplace to self and others, authentic leadership centered on humanism and nourishing quality interconnectedness are considered to be the key.... Research indicates that self-compassionate individuals experience greater psychological health than those who lack self-compassion.' - Wikipedia
We could go deeper into the subject of compassion. Animals have feelings like us, and plants are also sensitive beings. In a shared video, a woman recorded a sunflower 'singing.' It is amazingly beautiful. Even though I respected plants before, watching the video changed my attitude to one of more heartfelt appreciation. It even softened the tone of my voice as I talk with plants in the garden. It changed the way I pull their leaves and harvest them, with more gentleness, sensitivity and feeling. The video is posted on my FB timeline and could be replayed periodically as a reminder in this hardened world.
It is very hard to hear of hardened attitudes towards animals — the U.S. president allowing elephant parts to be sold, the slaughter of whales and dolphins in Japan, the mechanical, emotionally removed treatment by humans of chickens in a production facility, the general carelessness, indifference or arrogance towards other species.
To me, one way to go deeper (which may be too abstract for most) is to recognize that we are all clouds of electromagnetism. That puts us all on an equal basis, which is aligned with actuality. It is said we are all made of God material or star stuff, but those terms don't reach me.
Lately I have been speaking to plants and animals as mage — magnetic electron. Mage mantis, mage cat, mage flower. That has helped me feel at-oneness with the other. On the level of elementary particles and frequencies, I see no hierarchy. This conceptual vision seems too removed to reach the masses in the heart, but it is the most level ground I know. It is also substantiated by scientific method.
I feel agreement with the quote attributed to Albert Schweitzer which begins this article, with some reservations. Fighting against is never as strong a position as fighting for, and is fighting at all the energy to use towards peace? 'Must' and 'should' and 'make' in the sense used can generally be eliminated from our vocabulary in the new world. Also the word 'duty' has a different energy than 'calling' or 'responsibility'. The spirit of the quote rings true, just the wording could be adjusted to elevate it out of the dark ages. For example:
To bring humankind out of the dark ignorance of its past, each conscious individual has a calling to bear the light towards a more compassionate treatment of all living things. Animals and plants are sensitive beings and it is our responsibility and honor to do all we can individually and collectively to help the whole world recognize it.
Please see Beyond Compassion