It is time for the world's wisdom traditions to walk their talk about not killing, the practice of compassion, the reverence owed to all creatures, and the gratitude due the animals who bring love, peace, and beauty into our lives. For far too long, religious people have been so concerned with their quest for God that they have ignored or been completely oblivious to the exploitation of animals and the abuse of them in the name of sport, profit, and personal selfishness. Instead of following the love ethic at the core of so many religions, people of faith have bought into the idea that human beings are free to dominate all creatures that fly, walk, crawl, or swim. Thankfully, these humancentric ideas and ideals are being challenged and being replaced by a movement of ethical sensitivity toward animals.
Editors Lisa Kemmerer and Anthony Nocella have put together an edifying and inspiring collection of essays on the ways in which the world's wisdom traditions are now calling people to respect animals and to join with activists who are working for their rights and liberation. As Lisa Kemmerer writes in the introduction:
"This anthology carries readers from India and China to Malaysia and America, from sacred writings to core religious ideals, from time-honored practices to contemporary animal advocacy."
The paperback is divided into three sections: Religions of Asia, Abrahamic Traditions, and Ancient Indigenous Religious Traditions and Wicca. Here you will find fascinating essays on reincarnation and karma which illustrate an animal-friendly religious philosophy; the vegetarian diet as a form of devotion to God; the spiritual practice of purchasing and liberating captive animals (especially those destined for slaughter); the cultivation of compassion as tearing down the walls between "us" and "them" as different species; the animal advocacy of St. Francis and other spiritual teachers; the forbidding of cruelty to nonhuman animals; the ideal of kinship across the species; and the protest against an exploitative diet of flesh, eggs, and dairy products.
A new day may be arising as the world's religions and wisdom traditions begin to work together and practice reverence, love, compassion, and gratitude to nonhuman animals.