It is still light here in Sydney at 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve. The neighbourhood is quiet, although I’d have to say that our street excels in the ‘bright lights of Christmas’ extravaganza. We may be quiet, but we are not subdued.
Thoughts are tumbling around me tonight as I imagine the kids next door struggling to go to sleep in anticipation of Santa Claus, and at the same time to imagine baby flying-foxes who are orphaned and starving, their mothers dead or bereft of crèche and safety. Such thoughts are like pebbles in a pond, and there is no end to the sadness arising in response to living beings who tonight are in distress and despair. Terrible things are happening all over the world, and this is not a single-species story.
And yet – one of the great moral and spiritual leaders of the world, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, never seems to despair. And if he does not give up, then surely none of us can claim a right to give up. Keeping faith with life on earth demands that we keep on keeping on.
Recently I learned that the Dalai Lama visited Bob Irwin in Kingaroy, Queensland. Bob is the father of Steve Irwin, the wildlife icon of Australia. Bob loves Australian native animals, and is vigorously opposed to killing them. His bottom line is quite plain: we need to put the well-being of animals on a par with human well-being and find ways to achieve both. It is no easy task, but isn’t this exciting! The Dalai Lama’s Buddhist compassion comes together with the Aussie battler who fights on behalf of animals to offer a powerful statement of compassionate conservation in defence of the defenceless.
On the eve of the birth of the ‘Prince of Peace’, I take heart.
© Deborah Bird Rose (2013)