So…you think you love animals?

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
Mahatma Gandhi

Our furry friendsAmericans have tremendous affection for their “other species family members” – we will spend over 55 Billion on our pets this year according to the Animal Health Foundation, with Boomers leading the way, literally: according to the AHF we were the first generation to normalize pet ownership (who knew?!)

Cool!

But, many folks who adore their dogs, cats, iguanas, fish, hamsters, or (fill in the blank) aren’t the total-package animal lovers they think they are.

That’s because these same folks will, without a second thought, inadvertently do a host of things that harm animals.

Worse yet, many will do the fingers-in-the-ears-“la la la I don’t want to hear that!” when the topic of animal mistreatment/cruelty is raised.i don't want to hear it

So, how can so many profess to love all animals so much yet do so little within their power to protect them?

Many say it’s too painful to think about, or believe there’s no way around some forms of abuse (like in medical research).  Lots (like to) think the animals in entertainment venues are well cared for so no harm done.

All are excellent excuses.  None are good reasons.

If you fit the above bill, it’s past time to take a critical look at the breadth of your love for animals.

If you love only animals living in your home, be honest with yourself and others – admit that your love of animals is conditional.  love all animals

But, if after some consideration you believe you really are a lover of all animals everywhere, then you have a bit of work to do…

So, to make this a bit easier for anyone ready and willing to show their love for all animals, here’s an easy reference short list of ways to show it:

training a baby elephant for the circus

training a baby elephant for the circus

  • Don’t go to roadside “zoos,” Sea World, dog/horse races, swim with the dolphins activities, or any other venue using animals for our entertainment; other species were not put on the planet to be captured and “trained” for our entertainment, and as we’ve learned from the closing of Ringling Brothers and SeaWorld’s woes, they are in fact greatly harmed by these venues/activities.
  • Buy meat that is humanely raised – it is a bit more expensive, but doing so both shows care for food animals and gets you meat that tastes better.  Also, far easier to find these days.
  • Don’t get pets from commercial animal breeders or pet stores, aka “puppy
    mills
    – their animals are often poorly treated in order to improve profits; you local shelter has plenty of critters anxiously awaiting a good home, and btw, shelter animals make much better family members; probably because they really appreciate the home and your love.  Petfinder.com is an excellent resource.
  • Always take a few extra minutes when purchasing any product to ensure it was not tested on animals (those that don’t will proudly state so on the label) – to get you started, Johnson & Johnson refuses to end its use of animals to test its products; here’s a more complete list of companies that still use animals
  • Join one of the numerous organizations/groups that work tirelessly to stop animal abuse and take a few minutes each day to sign their smiling dogpetitions; donate to them when you can (why not take the money you would’ve spent on an extra toy for Fido and make the donation from him?!) (I’ve provided a starter list below)
  • Insist that medical research on animals be discontinued: research has come a long way from last millennia techniques – researchers no longer need to use animals but do so only because it’s been “standard practice” (hasn’t changed since Aristotle’s time) and is cheaper; more importantly, outcomes on animal research often do not correlate to outcomes with humans… in other words, such research is far too ineffective compared to other options (computer models, for instance)
    made-south-korea
  • Stop buying anything made in South Korea until they end their horrendous dog/cat meat trade (the details would sicken you).  Short list: LG; Samsung; Kia; Hyundai.
  • Forward this article to all you know who consider themselves animal lovers.

Do these things, and all creatures all around the world will love you back for it.

Links to the top animal welfare organizations:
The Humane Society of the United States (USHS)
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)
World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) – helps species at risk of extinction
International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) – helps animals in need throughout the world
The Non Human Rights Project (NhRP) – defends the rights of non human species
The Animal Rescue site – one click a day provides help to animals in need – do it every day…it’s free!
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Finally: Whites Losing US Majority

Finally: Whites Losing US Majority

Recent articles in major newspapers around the country have reported the decline of the country’s White population, resulting in the loss of our (I’m White as you know) majority status by mid-century.

To which I say… “Yay!

We’ve had hundreds of years in the majority, and have proven ourselves to be rather white-privilegepathetic stewards of our power. From decimating Native American populations and enslaving Africans (then continuing to do harm to both thereafter), to banning Chinese from migrating here (19th century Chinese Exclusion Act that lasted decades), interring Japanese-Americans and turning away Jews seeking safety during World War II, discriminating against LGBT folks, and now traumatizing children and families as they seek safety within our borders, we have clearly demonstrated our inability to lead ethically and humanely, thus the undeserving nature of our too-long-held majority.

We had our chance – make that chances – and we blew them, over and over. I’m glad our dominion will end soon.

May those who take our place learn from our bad behavior, and do far better.

This Adult Apologizes…

This Adult Apologizes…

To America’s kids:

On behalf of America’s adults – particularly my fellow Baby Boomers (who are still mostly in charge of government & industry) – I want to apologize for the trauma you regularly experience from gun violence; we have failed you.

I apologize for the legislators who could protect your safety through common sense gun regulations that the vast majority of voters support, but instead place their own careers ahead of your lives.

adult apology

I apologize for the nation’s responsible gun owners who, rather than fight for your safety by standing up to the NRA (which represents gun manufacturers), stay silent.

I apologize for the adults who, out of an irrational fear of having their guns taken from them if arms are better regulated, put these groundless fears ahead of your real ones.

I apologize for the adults who would rather turn your schools into prison-like fortresses and compel you to endure active shooter drills than ban semi-automatic weapons.

adult apology 1

I apologize for those in governance who cite mental health as the problem, yet refuse to fund mental health services.

And finally, I apologize in advance for any who say I don’t speak for them, because by doing so, admit to being part of the problem.

It’s up to you, kids.  If/when you’re old enough, you must not just march, but vote; at any age you must not just cry, but continue to hold adults accountable.

Because we’re clearly not able to do it for you.

So…Who’s the Animal?

So…Who’s the Animal?

For millennia, humans have called other sentient species “animals” – dogs, cats, ManMonkeyHybridfaceelephants, fowl, you get the idea.  And, we use the term as a disparagement – “…he acted like an animal!  It was awful!”

Interesting, given that we, too, are animals…

This was understandable at a time when barbaric practices like blood-letting and slavery were the norm, when humans thought other creatures to be stupid & without feeling therefore perfect for exploitation; they had no purpose other than serving human’s needs with no interest in their well-being.  Think capturing them in the wild for the circus, or whipping a slow, underfed horse to death, from which comes the adage “beating a dead horse” to indicate a futile activity.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and although human’s treatment of other species has greatly improved from even a century ago – Boomers are the first generation to have household pets as the norm – in some ways the practice of distancing ourselves from them continues:

  • We still call them “animals” making them lesser thus less deserving of fully humane treatment at all times;
  • We still refer to them as “it” rather than by gender;
  • We call ourselves their “owners” just as we do our house or car.

In turn, this has allowed us to feel comfortable eating them, selling them, and in too many cases, abusing them.

We now know that all other species, from fish to fowl, from canines/felines large & small to rhinos, feel,smart animals have varying levels of higher order thinking, communicate, have social connections (including some species who mate for life), and are self-aware; in essence, possess all elements required for the same sentience as our species.

We see cows heading for slaughter who know what’s coming and attempt to escape; captive dolphins & whales dying from depression (that’s how the dolphin we all loved on “Flipper” died); fish who are now understood to have the capacity for acquiring, storing in memory, retrieving, combining, comparing, and using in new contexts information and conceptual skills (in fact, their brain to body ratio is higher than ours).
Get a feel for just how loving and smart farm critters are from one of the places that saves them from mostly factory farming.

Yet:

  • Factory farmers use ever more abusive methods to get the biggest bang for their food animals buck (and have put almost 90% of small family farms out of business BTW), and people who claim to love animals still buy their products;
  • Stores like PetSmart & PetCo still buy small animals raised just for sale in usually awful conditions, and sell them, and people still buy them not realizing (or wanting to know?) the harm done to them;
  • Horses & Greyhounds are exploited for racing then sent off to slaughter (horses) or euthanized (dogs) when no longer a money-maker – people still enjoy the horse/dog races, again, not realizing (or wanting to know?) the harm done to them;puppy mills crppd
  • People still buy their pets from breeders who, at best profit from the use of a species just for procreation (something we still consider acceptable for other species when we don’t for our own), at worst run cruel puppy mills;
  • Large and small species are still used for our entertainment as though that was the purpose for their placement on earth – many otherwise animal loving people still attend animal-entertainment venues;
  • We are now fully aware of State-sanctioned animal abuse that goes on in countries like South Korea and China, but we go on supporting those countries by buying their products.

So, why are humans having such difficulty applying our new found understanding of other species to our treatment of them, just as, for example, we’ve changed the way we treat humans with impairments now that we better understand their capacities?  Is same species vs. other species so compelling that we cannot give them the same level of respect we do our own?

Even animal lovers worldwide – folks who have pets and love them dearly – choose to ignore the suffering outlined above.  Americans spend billions on pet care, yet for the most part won’t spend a little extra to buy meat that’s humanely raised, take a little extra time to find a smart phone manufactured by country other than South Korea/China, or cosmetics not tested on animals.

They are animal lovers until it’s inconvenient.

We have the capacity to change the way the we and others in the world treat all God’s critters, yet too many of us don’t.

So, who’s the animal?

blue transp down arrow

If you’re interested in changes you can make to help all other species, here’s a few recommendations:

  • Pay a bit extra for organic eggs & meats from humanely raised livestock (don’t let “natural” or “free of antibiotics” fool you; that means only that a factory farmer as d/c’d adding hormones/antibiotics; if “humanely raised” is not on the packaging, the pigs/cows/hens/turkeys are not being treated well)
  • Join animal advocacy organizations like the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the United States, PETA, and World Wildlife Fund, to stay apprised of petitions you can sign to end various types of animal abuse – of course if you can give one or more of them a small donation, they do very hard work and deserve your support.  Also, a click a day helps animals at the Animal Rescue Site where sponsors pay for that day’s animal helping activity when the required number of clicks is reached; it’s free and it works.  You can sign up to be reminded to click every day, and there’s many other causes on the site, so you can also help them while you’re there if you wish.
  • Do just a bit of research and buy only products not test on animals – there’s a ton of ’em, they can be found everywhere, and it takes only your awareness to make the switch.  PETA keeps an extensive list of products not tested on animals.  Companies like Mary Kay were removed from the list when they opted to start selling products in China – a lucrative market for them, but a decision that clearly put profits ahead of animal welfare given that China requires animal testing on cosmetics…
  • As much as feasible, stop buying products made in China and South Korea, the two greatest serial abusers of particularly dogs and cats.  I know…lots a great things are made in particularly South Korea; LG & Samsung electronics & appliances, Kia & Hyundai cars…but with just a bit of research I found a terrific android phone made in Taiwan (a Chinese territory on paper only), and rather than buy your next car, appliance, or TV from SK, buy one made in America.
Scapegoating Baby Boomers….Or Not…?

Scapegoating Baby Boomers….Or Not…?

I’ve noticed that much of the turmoil in the two most powerful Western Countries in the world, the US and Great Britain, is blamed on Baby Boomers:

  • In the US, the rise of Candidate Trump is blamed on angry, White middle-aged menangry Boomers (Boomers) who make up a bulk of his supporters (and the Tea Party before that), believing the system is “rigged” against them, wanting a political revolution that includes walls, bans on Muslims, a return to “the way things were” in younger days, and a possible exit from NATO;
  • In Britain, the majority of Brexit “leave” voters were Boomers, dissatisfied with such things as all the refugees crossing their borders and money going to the European Union that they want to keep for Britain alone.

We’re not the only generation voting for such controversial issues as leaving a union and banning an entire culture from the country, so why do we get all the blame?

Most likely because we’ve earned it.

As the first generation in modern history to:

  • think only of the present, not the future (the reason we were the first generation to make having lots of debt very cool…)…
  • have been raised to believe we’re quite special and therefore deserve great things (then passed that onto our children), and…
  • have grown accustomed to getting what we want when we want it no matter who or what is harmed along the way (from the environment as we also made waste cool, to the Great Recession fueled by our desire to live far beyond our means…

…we changed the landscape from sacrifice to satisfaction now, from ensuring the greater good to preserving what’s mine… and we replaced thoughtful debate with a good whine.  Remember, we still hold much of the power in both countries, from being the majority in legislatures to holding the most leadership positions in industry.

In the US & Britain, it’s mostly Boomers who want to close the borders to brexit-boomersrefugees/migrants, claiming fear for their safety and loss of jobs.

Yet, in the US, manufacturing workers are only a small portion of overall employment, accounting for just 9% of the workforce; instead, service workers account for more than three out of four American jobs and contribute to 60%+ of employment in 434 out of 435 congressional districts.  No opportunities lost there since Boomers are not about to starting cleaning hotel rooms or busing tables anytime soon. As for Britain, where socialization stops at industry’s door and Boomers have a nice pension, the only people at risk of losing jobs thus income to refugees were Millennials, who wanted to stay in the Union.

In the US, Boomers in the labor sector want those high-paying for un/semi-skilled manufacturing jobs back!…taken away by all those trade treaties vilified by Trump.  In fact, most manufacturing job loss came from advances in technology. Boomers in government want only to ensure their own political longevity which usually entails ignoring their constituents’ best interests, and those in industry make fistfuls of money by keeping their workers’ wages ridiculously low or moving their operations overseas where labor costs are far below what US workers would need to make a decent living.

In both countries, the majority of those who commit acts of terror are citizens or nationals.

For a generation here in the US that had the gumption to protest the Vietnam war to an end, the stamina to handle the assassinations of JFK, RFK, MLK, the fearlessness to live through the Watts riots & Kent State massacre, and the prescience to push for thus achieve the Civil Rights Act of 1964 & Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Women’s Liberation movement of the early ’70’s, and in Britain set world-wide trends in music/fashion/socialization, we’ve clearly lost our ability to go for the gold, replacing it out of fear with a determination to settle for the mediocre.

Because that’s what fear breeds…mediocrity…and we’re leading the way.