These sage words still guide my hand and heart today, reminding me that every being who treads, swims or flies upon this earth wants, needs and responds to kindness. Because although they and we may look different on the outside, in the ways that matter most, we are all the same.
Never before has humanity been so reminded of our “sameness” with those with whom we share this planet. Staring down the barrel of climate change and its devastating impacts, collectively our very existence is threatened.
Alas though, only one species is responsible for the rising sea levels, bouts of weather extremes with their increased ferocity, bio-diversity loss, species extinction, food shortages and crop failures, increase in risks of infectious diseases and increasing carbon dioxide levels – ours.
But this is not a story without hope.
Because as a species of great power, that we have misused to ours and others’ detriment, we too are one of great ingenuity, incredible creativity and often untapped compassion.
This comes with a need to recognise that all of humanity has the capacity for good, however hidden it may be under the layers of social conditioning, peer pressure and vested interests.
It makes perfect sense to believe this. After all, given we have so much in common with one another, how could it be that only some people have the capacity for altruism? The capacity must be within us all.
The tragedy for our awe-inspiring planet, along with her animals and peoples, is that too many of us have become divorced from the understanding that our futures are shared, and so too removed from the consequences of our actions. So much so that often we do not fully see, realise or appreciate the travesties and injustices we are supporting and are complicit in.
However, we must not resort to anger, rage or hate, as these negative emotions are counter-intuitive to what is so desperately needed right now. For they only seek to repel, disengage and shut down those who need to hear the call for unity, to connect their heart and head, and be reminded of their ability to feel.
For it is in our ability to feel and empathise with others – humans, non-humans and planet – that the salvation of us all lies.
Alas, change will not come about by waiting for those in power to act. For too long our major political parties have failed us*, opting for short-term gains over long-term wins. We only need to look at the history of social change to see this has been led by staunch individuals, drawn together by courage and compassion for the common cause of justice. Uniting and inspiring others along the way until that critical force is so strong it cannot be denied, and that glorious tipping point is reached.
And just as our species has momentarily lost its way, it will be up to our moral compass to guide us back. And I can think of no better way for us all to do this than follow those two sage words that my dear mum offered me all those years ago – be kind. In our thoughts, words and deeds.
*Although our politicians may have failed us in the past, it is up to each and every one of us to keep reminding them of the urgent need to act on behalf of all of the planet’s inhabitants and end the destructive ways of industries and stop animal cruelty.