The millennium is here. Let us take stock of who we are and where we are going. Is it acceptable to weep not only for human suffering but also for the rampant misery of other animals with whom we share the planet? Can we shed tears for Cissy, the severely beaten elephant at the El Paso Zoo, the kicked and abused elephants and chimpanzee, Trudy, at a circus in England?
Can we also weep for the millions of animals in laboratory prisons, the billions of animals tortured and slaughtered for food and clothing? Can we sincerely mourn the destruction of the natural world, the vanishing forests, wetlands, savannas and bodies of water? We hope these twelve mantras will make a difference for future generations:
One: Compassion and empathy for animals beget compassion and empathy for humans. Cruelty towards animals begets cruelty toward humans.
Two: All life has value and should be respected. Every animal owns her or his own life spark. Animals are not owned as property. All living creatures deserve these basic rights: the right to life, freedom from torture, and liberty to express their individual natures. Many law schools offer courses in animal law. If we agree, we would interact with animals in rather different ways. We shall need compelling reasons for denying these rights and ask forgiveness for any animal we harm.
Three: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Imagine what it would be like to be caged, trapped, restrained, isolated, mutilated, shocked, starved, socially deprived, hung upside down awaiting death or watching others slaughtered. Biological data clearly show that many animals suffer physically and psychologically and feel pain.
Four: Dominion does not mean domination. We hold dominion over animals only because of our powerful and ubiquitous intellect. Not because we are morally superior. Not because we have a "right" to exploit those who cannot defend themselves. Let us use our brain to move towards compassion away from cruelty, to feel empathy rather than cold indifference, to feel animals' pain in our hearts.
Five: Human beings are a part of the animal kingdom not apart from it. The separation of "us" from "them" creates a false picture and is responsible for much suffering. It is part of the in-group/out-group mentality that leads to human oppression of the weak by the strong as in ethnic, religious, political and social conflicts. Let us open our hearts to two-way relationships with other animals, each giving and receiving. This brings pure and uncomplicated joy.
Six: Imagine a world without animals. No birdsong, no droning of nectar searching bees, no coyotes howling, no thundering of hooves on the plains. Rachel Carson chilled our hearts with thoughts of the silent spring. Now we face the prospect of silent summers, falls and winters.
Seven: Tread lightly. Only interfere when it will be in the best interests of the animals. Imagine a world where we truly respect and admire animals, feel heart-felt empathy, compassion and understanding. Imagine how we should be freed of guilt, conscious or unconscious.
Eight: Make ethical choices in what we buy, do and watch. In a consumer-driven society our individual choices, used collectively for the good of animals and nature, can change the world faster than laws.
Nine: Have the courage of conviction. Never say never. Act now. Beproactive, prevent animal abuse before it starts. Dare to speak out to save the world's precious and fragile resources. Live as much as possible in harmony with nature, respecting the intrinsic value of all life and the wondrous composition of earth, water and air.
Ten: Every individual matters and has a role to play. Our actions make a difference. Public pressure has been responsible for much social change, including more humane treatment of animals. "Whistle blowers" have courageously revealed intolerable conditions in laboratories, circuses, slaughterhouses and so on, often at the expense of their jobs.
Eleven: Be a passionate visionary, a courageous crusader. Combat cruelty and catalyze compassion. Do not fear to express love. Do not fear to be too generous or too kind. Above all, understand that there are many reasons to remain optimistic even when things seem grim. Let us harness the indomitable human spirit. Together we can make this a better world for all living organisms. We must, for our children, and theirs. We must stroll with our kin, not walk away from them.
Twelve: A millennial mantra: WHEN ANIMALS LOSE, WE ALL LOSE. EVERY SINGLE LOSS DIMINISHES US AS WELL AS THE MAGNIFICENT WORLD IN WHICH WE LIVE TOGETHER.
Jane Goodall, author of many books including "Reason for Hope," is known for her work with the chimpanzees of Gombe National Park in Tanzania, now in its 40th year, and for conservation education world-wide."