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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How Boomers Will Choose a Retirement Locale: Weather? Taxes? Or One Other Key Factor…

retireesWhen our parents got down to choosing where to live out their years of retirement bliss, they based that decision, generally, on the following criteria:

  • warm climate
  • lower taxes (particularly for those in the Northeast)
  • affordable, senior-friendly communities
  • golf (or other favorite sport like boating)

Not in that order particularly; perhaps even equal in importance.

Then came Boomers’ turn to choose retirement Eden, and I predict – or hope, or both – we will include one key factor; for some of us, it may even trump one or two of the others on our list:

  • political & cultural climate

That portion of our youth, activism and strong political/social views, just might influence where we finally settle down to live out our last 30+ years.  After all, that’s almost 1/3 of our life, so we’re wanting more than early-bird specials and Jai-Alai.

As the country becomes ever more polarized (thanks to us…we started out polarized and remain so in our current dual roles as powerful voting block/generation in charge both legislatively & industrially), we will want to live in a place that shares our views governmentally & socially, from gun rights to health care.  Boomers who lean left politically will choose states like New Mexico and California. Boomers who lean right to far-right will love places like Arizona & Florida run by the Tea Party and the NRA, where their views are embraced by the populace and the leaders they choose.

The importance of these factors as we determine our retirement move is driven by the role cultural & political comfort plays for us (far more than it did for our parents): Culturally we care greatly about such things as quality elder care for our parents and then us, a supportive environment for mid-age & older workers/entrepreneurs as we pursue our “second act,” affordable health-care options (as we live longer and more active lives than our parents did), and 55+ communities’ emphasis on healthy lifestyles; politically we are not comfortable in a place where we would be surrounded & governed by those whose world view is the opposite of ours – and if we can’t move to a state that meets the criteria, we will at minimum find safe haven in a city/county that does.

So, states wanting to woo us, play this socio-political ace in your deck to attract our lucrative generation to your shores.

Boomers, pay close attention to this key ingredient when you make this very important decision.  I can tell you from personal experience; living in a state far removed from your cultural/political sensibilities is very painful indeed.

Let’s Hear It For…The Tea Party?!

angry white boomerAh, the “Tea Party” – known somewhat facetiously but mostly factually, as a group dominated by White male Boomers with too much time on their hands and not enough accurate information about either the US Constitution or the Founding Fathers, who want a whole lot less government for everything other than those items they deem needing a whole lot more government intervention (such as women’s choice, definition of marriage, etc.); and of course, who want no changes to their SS & Medicare no matter how much updating these two worthy programs need in order to remain solvent.

Phew!

But…. There is one very important reason to have great respect for our Boomer brethren even if we don’t agree with their positions.

They are fully involved, organizing for the things in which they believe – and it’s working.  No doubt most of them didn’t do such things as youth – that was a hippie thing.  But they’re doing it now.  And those who were activists in our youth, make up the vast majority who are doing so little today.

So, hip hooray for the Tea Party for being actively involved – pushing for those things they believe to be in the country’s (well, mostly their) best interest.

To the rest of us who hold a different view of what’s good for our nation, I say… don’t knock ’em…. emulate them!

Boomer Mojo; Our Time Has Come Again

The guest on this past week’s show (11/6/11: David Mills, author of 10000 Days: A Call to Arms for the Baby Boom Generation that asks of us “what do we plan to do with the last 10K productive days we have left after turning 50?”) believes we Boomers can use our past activist experience, combine it with the wisdom (hopefully) and decades of knowledge we’ve accumulated, and once again fix what’s wrong with our country.

This inspired me to ask this question of our followers on the show’s FB page: “Do you think we Boomers still have the collective to power to make great changes to society like we did in our youth?”  (feel free to go to the page and be heard)

Here’s a few of the responses:

  • “We have the collective power to make tremendous change. Need strong leadership and lots of people talking and sharing ideas.”
  • “We can and we are…”
  • “Sorry I believed we did in my youth but in the end I don’t feel we made a difference.”

Now, admittedly we’ve gotten the proverbial bad rap from the younger generations, feeling that we pursued what was in our own best interest at everyone else’s expense.  And indeed, as I mentioned in my last post, once we got into positions of power, we did all the things we derided our elders for doing (bespoiling the land for profit; taking kick-backs for influence; filling our corporate coffers at the expense of our workers’ well-being) – only bigger and with less discretion.

But as a generation, we also propelled more positive societal changes than any other generation in the history of our nation.  Hey, younger ones, enjoy the freedom to live together before you get married, and divorce without societal derision if you find you married the wrong person?  Thank us.  Ladies, glad you can no longer be overlooked for that big promotion simply because of your gender?  Thank your local Boomer.  And, for those of you who think clean air and water is a nifty idea, that river in Ohio would still be so toxic it’s on fire if not for our unwillingness to accept such polluting ways (for you kids, here’s the link for the back story on the burning river thing).

Well, my fellow Boomers, our time has come around again.  We have the numbers, the power, the finances, and the experience, to make this country proud.  We know how to use activism as an efficient tool for change.  Unfortunately, right now, the only members of our generation using it well are the members of the tea party (45% of which are white, male Boomers).  And I say “unfortunately” not because I disagree with their positions; it’s unfortunate because they are a minority of us – the rest of us are remaining dangerously disconnected from our immense ability to influence positive change.

Here is a brief list of powerful things we can do, individually and collectively, to regain our generational greatness as propellers of the social changes needed today, just as we so famously, and successfully did for those that were needed in the 1960’s/’70’s:

  • Lead by example
    Keep your promises; say what you mean/mean what you say; give more than you receive; be a mensch
  • Get involved in something that betters things
    Now that the kids are grown and if you’re not taking care of an elderly relative, give some of your time to something designed to make our world better, whether volunteering for a cause that tugs your heart, or pushing for needed changes in your community; at the very least, regularly communicate with your representatives so they know just what you want from them, and if you don’t get it, find someone who will do what you know needs doing
  • Agitate for changes to the way Congress handles our nation’s business
    A great place to start is by insisting on changes to the way Congress treats itself; if our little Princes & Princesses in DC are treated like the rest of us, we will have more true citizen representation – those who simply love the power will no longer want the job, and those who want the job will want to get the job done and go home.  Here’s a petition I’ve started circulating to insist on just such changes; download it, sign it, and pass it on: 
    Petition to Congress
  • Be a resource champion, not a resource hog
    Did you know that the improvements to the environment we fought for and won 40 years ago, are in the past few years being undone?  Air pollution is now worsening.  Go back to your roots of good earth stewardship; we can start with eliminating our own wasteful habits, from things a simple as reusing rather than immediately disposing, to driving a more fuel efficient car and downsizing everything.  And, become a proponent of both clean and renewable energy sources.

So, to that last respondent of the FB survey, I say; we absolutely made a difference – refusing to see our accomplishments, and build on them has been our mistake.

I believe it’s not a matter of being unable to make the changes we need, our children need, our grandchildren.

It’s a matter of being willing.