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On Killing and War, Kindness and Compassion January 3, 2006

Posted by Yvonne in Distinctions, Word in Action.
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Regarding a question put to me by email today:

“Will the world be kinder and more compassionate place if we stop participating in killing animals and going to war? What do you think?”

My reply: “I think that if we first, be kinder and more compassionate, then the killing and war may subside – but I don’t think it will stop altogether for quite awhile. There’s too much of the power of economics in it. And certainly if we stop ingesting flesh, our constitution, brain chemistry and therefore psychology will shift — to what extent and with what resulting impact on behavior will vary with the individual.

But let’s think about it from a couple other angles.

Seems like you’ve got “kind and compassionate” opposed to “killing and war”. Apparently in this conversation, killing still does mean something, and that something is what is not wanted … but check it out: perhaps it ain’t necessarily so. Could it be possible to kill and go to war on purpose, with kindness and compassion — samurai style and with honor? Can you imagine a situation where killing would be compassionate and war would be kind?

So far, humans kill; that’s part of being human at the level we’ve come to. If you only knew how close you, yourself are to the edge of murder, it would likely make you shudder. Perhaps that might be useful to explore and get used to. Only when we can consciously choose  to kill and go to war, can we consciously choose to not kill and go to war. Otherwise, it’s all “IT” in action, dueling identities on runaway automatic.

P.S. I’m a vegetarian for 18 years, and I wore my full length fur coat the other day because it was really cold out, and plus it matched my outfit.

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Comments»

1. Donna Kuck - January 22, 2006

Actually, I can imagine all sorts of situations where killing would be compassionate. I want to un-link this from the questions about war. In my profession I am often asked to kill compassionately. I am a veterinarian and I have euthanized (killed humanely and compassionately) hundreds of dogs and cats.

At this point I want to point out that I operate from a model of the world and a model of what is “kind and compassionate” that puts QUALITY of life first over quantity. If I perceive that a patient is in pain (that cannot be managed) or has a diminished capacity to function in the world that is causing fear and stress, or is dying, then I will euthanize that patient. I will provide a “good death.”

There are some models of the world that do not look at pain and suffering the way I do. There are some models that equate pain and suffering with karma and hold that to interfere with karma does great harm to the individual, whether human or animal. In this model, my “kind and compassionate” would not compute.


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