This week I am attending the Association of Avian
Veterinarians Welfare Symposium. The
range of people present gathering in one room trying to learn and listen to one
another was the broadest I have ever seen in one room. We had avian welfare activists, staff
veterinarians for Petco and Petsmart.
USDA and Canada welfare regulatory veterinarians, sanctuary parrot
owners, advocates of poultry well being, conservationists, private practice
veterinarians, and one minister (me). The name of the entire conference was
“Waves of Wisdom” and it is clear from what was shared in that room that there
is gathering wisdom and power, and the wave towards human and avian liberation
is there for any who wish to ride upon.
Here are some of the comments I heard that make up the gathering wisdom
literature of those concerned with the
well being of all life (with my accompanying commentary).
Terry Whitting , (Manitoba
Agriculture, Chief Veterinarian): It is easier to believe than to talk about
things. He was referring to the complexity
of avian welfare .When people are confronted with complex difficult topics,
they shift into belief language and avoid communication with other humans. It is this belief language then that keeps us
from communicating at the level of values, authenticity, and interconnecting empathy.
He went on to say that though we do some good work with the human –animal bond;
it does not count as a relational ethic. If anything, it detracts from the real work we
need to be doing of compassionate care.
He concluded that we need skillful communication and I can whole
heartedly echo – boy howdy! Hence my
presentation two days later on compassionate communication at this same
Julie Murad, Director of Gabriel Foundation, a parrot
sanctuary, said in her presentation that we need a more compassionate society.
Again, I echo, boy howdy! But how do we
One way I see is how we all came into that one room. Somehow we are gaining a common language of
beauty, and this interconnecting gestalt ties us to one another and raises the
level of trust so that we find a way to still the chatter that says you are
wrong or you are different, and open our hearts to the beauty and dignity not
just of the birds we love, but of one another.
people involved in avian welfare? Let me
give you an example. At the AAV Avian
Welfare Committee Jan Hooemeijer said that the social event kicking off the AAV
meeting held at Sea World was morally inadequate. As veterinarians interested
in the welfare of animals we should not be supporting activities that diminish
the well being of others. Those in the room
were asked if they agreed. The hands raised immediately and enthusiastically. There
was no discussion, no argument - just a consensus to do the right thing for
those whose inherent worth has been diminished and disempowered by the human species. Yet is seems that is we who have been
disempowered over the long millennia because we do not see how our own lives
weave into the interconnected web of life.
This is changing. Seeing and
sharing the beauty and worth of whales, parrots, and chickens is finally
bringing us into our power, which liberates us as it liberates others.