Please tell us about the concept your new book is based on, turning points in compassion? What is a turning point in compassion?
A turning point in compassion simply refers to a situation or event that leads to an awakening of the heart and mind in the form of a compassionate understanding of the sentience, importance, and suffering of other beings That awakening is followed by changes in behaviour that reflect that understanding, and in many cases a championing of a cause that improves the plight of those affected, in this case the animals.
What inspired you to put this book together?
I began developing a deep relationship with animals some years ago. My interest in their welfare grew and I did the World Peace Diet Facilitator’s Course, increasing my awareness even further. I desperately wanted to do something to help raise awareness and inspire people to break out of the unconscious state that perpetuates animal use and abuse. Personal stories often resonate with readers in a way that allows them to empathise with others and I wanted to present the information in a context that encouraged understanding. I also wanted to break down the obsolete stereotype that many people have about vegans. The sixty plus contributors come from a wide range of backgrounds including farmers, lawyers, professors, doctors, sanctuary founders and activists from eight countries.
Can you share with us an excerpt from the book?
This is a section from Harold Brown’s submission in Chapter One, Farmers as Visionaries: Stories of Emergence and Transition. It’s a powerful chapter and it can be read in its entirety on our website at www.turningpointsincompassion.info
When we say, “I care” we show up in the world in a very different and marvellous way. When we truly care, our intentions, words and deeds are acted out with integrity and are consistent with our core desires of compassion, empathy and love.
That day I truly became vegan. Being vegan is not just a way of eating. Sure, what we put in our mouths is very important but it is only one component of a vastly larger picture and way of being. It is a practice of selfless service, unconditional love, and a holistic understanding of the biota. It is non-cooperation and non-participation with anything that does not allow another being to live on their own terms. There was now a conscious connection between my heart and my head and I now had a moral and ethical foundation upon which to live my life. On that day I learned to trust my heart.
As you will see in this book there are many people who have shared their stories of transformation. I don’t believe we are extraordinary people; I know I am not. In my interactions with those who have developed what I call animal consciousness, there are common themes found in everyone’s story, yet no two are alike. More than that, these folk are examples of how we can all be and do better, and live lives where our core values are in line with words and actions; in other words, to live lives of moral and ethical consistency. We are not perfect and we all are works in progress but we have learned to trust our intuition and our hearts and I can say for me, it has never led me astray.
All people know they can do better. It is a question of having the emotional courage and moral imagination to do so. By our choices we create and recreate our reality and our world.
A lot of books based around veganism focus on health. Why did you decide to focus on compassion?
Health is a very positive focus and is in its own way a form of compassion towards one’s body. Holding to new dietary habits though, despite knowing how good they are for us, can be challenging. In my experience, unless the heart changes, nothing else does. As we evolve and mature in consciousness to understand our deep interconnectedness with all life, we have, of necessity to expand our focus on ourselves to include compassion for all beings. This becomes the true foundation on which we can live our lives ethically. A compassionate connection with others necessitates kindness and care and is mutually exclusive from causing harm to any other being.
The natural state of human beings at birth is to have a sense of interconnection and empathy with animals. Unfortunately, children are fed animals in a disguised form over a long period of time, mitigating a disconnection that is sustained for a lifetime unless they become aware of the reality behind their meals. It’s a great challenge in a society whose entire machinery is primed to keep people unconscious. There are so many vested interests involved. For that reason, the need to awaken to a true understanding of compassion is needed.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Our book has a two fold purpose. The primary focus is on sharing an important message about our need to change the way we relate to and treat animals. The second is to support the wonderful work grassroots organisations are doing to rescue and care for animals. One hundred per cent of the proceeds from sales will go to animal sanctuaries and rescue groups as well as help us provide further humane education.
To buy a copy go here: www.turningpointsincompassion.info