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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

Compassion is Contagious™

My friend Stephanie has been doing a great deal of work recently with animals who are on their way to the slaughterhouse. Watching the videos, tweets, and posts coming out of amazing volunteer movements like Toronto Pig Save has reinforced for me that concern for animal welfare IS spirituality: this is what “the interconnectedness of all living things” actually means. Other humans will soon end their lives in a very violent way, and yet this sort of aid—a drink of water, a few loving words, a brief physical connection of hand and snout—can still make a world of difference to these sentient creatures.

Toronto Pig Save put together the following short video to show you what they do. It’s been a brutally hot summer, but I have a fan, a shower, access to drinking water whenever I need it, and my absolute freedom. These pigs don’t enjoy any of those blessings.

As I watched this video I kept thinking of the times in my life when I was thirsty. I tried to imagine that feeling magnified to this degree, but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be confined like this, and in such unbearable heat.

People sometimes say “you’re just anthropomorphizing these animals,” but I don’t think so. You can see how desperate these pigs are for water—just as you or I would be. We humans don’t have a monopoly on basic needs, or basic feelings.


Of course, these activities are not limited to Toronto. In response to her Facebook and Twitter posts, Stephanie has been receiving inquiries and messages of support from all over the world, and she is helping to develop a broader organization called the Global SAVE Movement (Stop Animal Violence Everywhere). Here’s a video she put up recently about setting up a SAVE group in your own community:

On the surface, to focus on becoming a vessel of love and compassion might not seem all that “practical” or “effective.” Yes, the animals are still going to die. But if you think back on the last time you were having a really shitty day and someone offered you a hug, a listening ear, and a heartfelt “I love you,” you remember that these intangible gifts DO make a difference. (I love the Global Save Movement tagline, Compassion is Contagious™. For some downright hardwarming evidence that this is so, watch this “30 Days” episode in which a hardcore hunter goes to live with a family of vegan activists.)

I’ll end with a Youtube comment (on the first video) I found particularly cogent:

pig save comment

A few more links:

Global Animal Welfare Development Society

(Check out this interactive map to see where SAVE groups are popping up worldwide.)

Global SAVE Movement on Facebook

New York Pig Save on Facebook

Stephanie Gorchynski on Facebook and Twitter.

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.