Worldchanging World-Saving Actions Must Include Humane Education and MOGO Living

Last week’s Earth Day celebration passed with the usual green this and eco that. But this year also brought more attention to how both Earth Day and the concept of green have started to lose a bit of their shine, with their cooption by multinational corporations and other companies trying to cash in on our desire to do good. There’s also the growing revelation that taking those itty bitty steps for the planet, while better than nothing, isn’t nearly enough to save us – or the earth – from ourselves.

As Worldchanging says,

“We’ll only head off disaster by taking steps — together — that are massive, societal and thorough. Most of what needs to be done involves political engagement, systems redesign, and cultural change. It can’t be done in an afternoon and then forgotten about.”

Worldchanging has created a list of 10 “big, difficult, world-changing concepts” essential for helping create the just, compassionate, sustainable world we want (and need). Here’s their list:

1.    Eliminate nuclear weapons.
2.    Stabilize the bottom billion.
3.    Create a globally transparent society.
4.    Be prepared, globally.
5.    Empower women.
6.    Enable a future forward diet.
7.    Document all life.
8.    Negotiate an effective climate treaty.
9.    Build bright green cities.
10.    Build no new highways.

If you check out the full post, you can see their explanations about the problems that each of these concepts solves and why it’s important.

All of the above are admiral, desirable elements of a humane world. But, one essential concept that’s missing from the top of their list is:

1.    Integrate comprehensive humane education and MOGO living into all areas of our lives.

If we’re taught from a young age to live with integrity, compassion and wisdom; if we’re given the tools and knowledge to put our deepest values into action; if we learn to pay attention to the impact of our choices and to do the most good and least harm for all people, animals and the planet; if we’re encouraged to think critically and creatively and to find solutions that work for all; if we’re inspired to look at the world through a lens of interconnectedness; if we’re empowered to make positive personal choices and to transform systems, we can create a truly humane world.

We’re going to have a challenging time accomplishing all that other stuff on their list if we don’t collectively have the passion, the skills and the integrity to create that world, and those are things that have to be nurtured and taught.

~ Marsha

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Oregon Action Alert: Contact Your Senator to Help Address the Puppy Mill Problem

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The Humane Society of the United States just sent me an email mentioning that the Oregon House has passed H.B. 2470 to help stop puppy mills in Oregon, and the bill has now gone to the Oregon senate.

The bill would limit breeders to no more than 50 “sexually intact dogs 2 years or older,” would require minimum care standards, and would require retail pet stores to provide information about a puppy’s medical and breeding history. Here’s the text of the bill in full.

Here’s information about puppy mills from:

If you’d like to take positive action to help address the puppy mill problem in Oregon, you can call and/or email your state senator and ask them to support H.B. 2470.

~ Marsha

WebSpotlight: VegFund Helps You Serve Fabulous Vegan Food in Your Community

veganfoodYou’ve been there: the fundraising dinner to help the local humane society help companion animals; the environmental club meeting focused on helping protect wildlife; the human rights fair dedicated to eliminating oppression — all great causes working for a more compassionate, just world, and what’s on the menu? Animals.

Sometimes organizations working for a better world forget about the impact of the food we eat on people, the planet, and especially animals, so it’s great that there’s a new resource available for citizen activists.

VegFund.org helps “fund the distribution of vegan food at local events.”

If you can find an event (preferably one that wouldn’t normally have vegan food) in your community at which you can serve free vegan food, then you can apply to VegFund for possible reimbursement of your food and supply expenses. (See application details.) According to their website, VegFund grants thousands of dollars every week to people organizing vegan food at events.

If you’re someone who has cash to spare, you can also donate to VegFund, so that they can offer grants to other activists.

Image courtesy of JP Puerta via Creative Commons.

Are You Good? Are You Happy? 5 Online Tests Can Help You Tell

Are you good? Are you happy? How do you know? How good or happy are you compared to others? The daily choices we make can tell a lot about our values, intentions, and attitude, but sometimes people want more quantitative, “scientific” data. If you’re a fan of online quizzes, are curious about how your “goodness” might be perceived by others, and want to help contribute data for several ongoing studies, check out a recent blog post from Jason Marsh of Greater Good Magazine. He recently shared several “scientific tests” that measure a variety of factors on the “goodness” scale.

Marsh’s tests cover several areas, including:

  • How moral are you?
  • How prejudiced?
  • How empathic?
  • How socially intelligent?
  • How compassionate?

The tests only provide indications and generalizations, but they’re still fun (most take no more than a few minutes to complete) and informative.

Animal Visuals Offers Glimpse into Lives and Deaths of Farmed Animals

The principal at Whitwell Middle School in rural Tennessee knew that it was difficult for students to envision just how many 6 million is when they were studying the Holocaust (the number of people who were exterminated by the Nazis), so they decided to collect paperclips (one clip to represent one person) to help create a visual representation (see the documentary about the project it became).

Likewise, when we ask people to think about the number of land animals killed for food in the U.S. each year – more than 10 billion – the number alone can be a poor representative of the depth and breadth of suffering and death involved. Recently I found a powerful little visual representation of the number of chickens (9 billion), pigs (116 million) and cows (35 million) killed in the U.S. for food in 2008.

Created by Mark Middleton, founder of Animal Visuals, the brief video shows little animated cow, pig and chicken carcasses sliding along a slaughterhouse line at the average rate of slaughter (such as 287 per second for chickens). The data for the animation comes directly from the USDA.

When you sit and watch all those bodies swinging (and sometimes kicking) along the lines across your screen, and note the counter tallying up the number of cows, pigs and chickens who are being killed during those brief seconds that you’re watching, it’s a visceral image, without being too graphic, so it’s a great little too to share with others. (There’s also a link to “stop” the killing lines and find out about vegan resources.)

Middleton’s goal with Animal Visuals is to “provide compelling visuals and interactive media to empower animal advocates, educate the public, and expose the injustices of animal exploitation.”

He has also created a Virtual Battery Cage, which offers a glimpse into what a battery hen endures while in her cage. The “virtualization” also includes sound and factoids. Although I’m glad this tool exists, I don’t think it’s as strong as the slaughter animation; but, it’s still a new and different perspective.

Look for Middleton to create more such tools in the future.

MOGO Tip: Pay It Forward, Tell Them You Did, and Encourage Them to Do the Same

“You see, I do something real good for three people. And then when they ask how they can pay it back, I say they have to Pay It Forward. To three more people. Each. So nine people get helped. Then those people have to do twenty-seven.” He turned on the calculator, punched in a few numbers. “Then it sort of spreads out, see. To eighty-one. Then two hundred forty-three. Then seven hundred twenty-nine. Then two thousand, one hundred eighty-seven. See how big it gets?” ~ from Pay It Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde

A lot of people have heard of the book and/or movie called Pay It Forward, authored by Catherine Ryan Hyde, in which a young boy hopes to create a better world for himself, as well as others, by doing a good deed for 3 people and asking them to “pay it forward” by doing a good deed for 3 other people, and so on. The PIF philosophy has inspired a lot of people, sparking the Pay It Forward Foundation, the Pay It Forward Movement, and a whole bunch of individuals and groups paying it forward.

It’s a philosophy that I really love and believe in, and I try to “pay it forward” whenever I can. But, I’ve been forgetting an important part of paying it forward: letting people know that I’m doing so and encouraging them to do the same. Of course, I don’t mean that we shouldn’t do kind things unless we can tell someone we did them. (In fact, I love doing little kind things anonymously.) But, when it’s appropriate, it’s an important part of paying it forward to encourage others to pay it forward, too. Here’s a recent example.

My mom and husband and I were downtown for a presentation about the crisis in the Congo. When getting out of our car, a woman came over and asked if we could make change for 50 cents for the parking meter. I gave her 50 cents and told her to keep it. She was surprised and grateful. I told her “Just pay it forward to someone else.”

That extra statement — “Just pay it forward to someone else” — can be the catalyst for helping kindness and awareness grow.

By the way, if you’re interested in sharing a Pay It Forward card when you do some of your good deeds, you can download and print out Pay It Forward cards (pdf).

MOGO Tip: Learn Something New Today…And Every Day

Several years ago I was talking to a neighbor about the conditions that factory farmed animals endure, and I mentioned that one of the evil practices the industry uses for battery hens (those kept in cages to lay eggs) was forced molting. She asked me what exactly forced molting was. Uhhh. I didn’t know. I’d read that it was a bad thing done to battery hens, and that’s all I needed to know; it must therefore be a bad practice. But, if I was going to talk intelligently and knowledgeably about animal protection issues, I needed to learn more about them. A great opportunity for learning something new.

Many years before that, I’d been a staunch believer that homosexuality was a sin – ‘cause that’s what I’d been taught. I had no reason to question it, because everyone else around me believed it. I could safely assume it was true. And then, in college, I befriended my new fellow dance majors, many of whom were gay. And I realized that all my “facts” and beliefs were just assumptions that I’d established out of the culture, habits and traditions under which I was raised. A great opportunity for learning something new.

My new shampoo has an unpronounceable chemical in it. I see a label that says “certified humane.” I find the perfect outfit at a certain store, but I’m not sure where or how the outfit was made or what the business practices of the store are. All great opportunities to learn something new.

If we truly want to make choices that reflect values such as compassion and justice, and that do the most good and the least harm for all, it’s important that we educate ourselves about the impact of our choices, question our assumptions, and learn ways to create positive change.

~ Marsha