“A Kinder World” – image copyright Susan Pitcairn – susanpitcairn.com
This week more than any other since October when I kicked off my writing efforts, I am struggling to write. Valerie was listening to a podcast today where a man described the pandemic like a mix of the trepidation around a tsunami or hurricane and a terrorist attack. We know something is coming, we know it is big, and it is inevitable, but who in our midst will kick off the destructive chain of events?
We are distancing ourselves from our fellow humans, staying home, avoiding large crowds and public places. It is a state of anxious alert. We try to rely on the rational brain to carry us through, do what we can, and set aside what we cannot change. But the pull of media is strong and the web is filled with tales of sadness and hopelessness and helplessness.
As a global society, may this pandemic remind us of the importance of kindness. To be kind to ourselves when we are having a low day or misdirect our frustrations and fears. To be kind to those around us, in our homes, neighbourhoods, and beyond. Even though stubbornly resistant to meditation, I still see the beauty and feel the spirit of “metta” or “loving kindness” meditation. In loving kindness meditation, we send out positive thoughts in greater and greater circles. This includes sending wishes for happiness, health and peace to those who “challenge us” as described in the article below.
Extending those wishes for happiness, health and peace to all the citizens of other lands sure can’t hurt. It is also my sincere hope that wishes for the happiness, health and peace of all sentient beings, human and nonhuman, will be part of those radiating circles.
Whether meditating, praying or simply pausing to think and reflect, the true key is what happens next. Our actions affect others. There will be many opportunities for us to put that loving kindness into action.
As most of us are probably aware, the virus is thought to have originated in “wet markets” where suffering and stressed live “food” animals (including more familiar animals like chickens and fish as well as “exotics” like snakes, bats, cats, and wolves) are crammed in close proximity with each other and human communities. Lest we see this as a problem from “over there”, the vast majority of North American chickens, turkeys, pigs and cows are raised in only slightly better conditions. They are confined in horrid factories that are conducive to the incubation of new viruses, bacteria and prions that may become the next plague on humanity.
If we are shopping for supplies as we head into isolation and the meat and cheese and milk and eggs are stripped from the grocery store shelves, we can rejoice in the protein-packed and healthy goodness of the dried beans that remain on the bottom shelves of the staples aisle. Now is as good a time as ever to put more loving kindness on our plates. Eating plants is one of the best ways we can truly help all beings on this precious earth to be happy, healthy and safe.