Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Humane Conversion

Last night I attended a second book signing for “The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals Our Call to Defend Them” by author and Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)  President, Wayne Pacelle, in New Haven CT, at the Yale book Store. The difference this time is that I brought along my good friend John (last name withheld), who by all accounts is an animal lover and compassionate human being, but he is not, or should I say ‘was not’ well informed on many aspects of the cruelty’s and inhumanities which are often inflicted upon animals by ‘we’ the collective human race.
Now as I said, at my previous attendance to one of Wayne’s book signings, I purchased my own copy of “The Bond”, had it personally autographed and even blogged about it when Wayne made an appearance in New Canaan, CT.
You can read my first blog about Wayne’s book signing at

OK, back to last night. Knowing what to expect once we arrived, I was prepared for stories about factory farming, Canadian seal hunts, dog fighting, and a menagerie of other animal related cruelties which many Wayne has not only been witness to, but fights daily to end.  Listening to Mr. Pacelle conjured up visual images ‘not for the faint of heart’ and many other images which John had probably never heard in one collective conversation.
Truths about the inhumane use of animals for the sake of self-serving reasons filled the air for over an hour to an overcrowded, yet captivated room of interested and compassionate animal advocated which gathered all for one collective reason; recognition of our personal bond with animals and how to carry that message to others.
Now, at the time I was unaware that John was on information compassion overload and it wasn’t until our drive home that he disclosed to me a sadness which had swept over him while listening to Wayne’s book discussion and the audiences input to their own personal witnesses to animal neglect and animosity towards animals.
John confessed that he felt helpless to the suffering and was ashamed for food and clothing choices which admittedly have been driven by years of conditioned behaviors based on childhood and societal influences.
What to do with all of this information was now John’s newest obsession. He was emotionally exhausted and struggled with understanding how for the past twenty years I have subjected myself to such tragedies as a career choice. I told him that if it wasn’t for my training and certification as a Compassion Fatigue Educator , I too would not know what to do with all of my empathy. We also had an honest discussion about living within a vegetarian diet and cruelty free consumer choices which have been my common way of life for the past 17 years and how John himself could make a difference.
Knowing that he has to arrive at the conclusion which best suits for his level of compassion, I could not force my choices on him, but instead reminded him that ‘The Bond” was one which he was responsible to create for himself, while being accountable to the animals that are affected by those choices.

Later that night, John and I enjoyed a vegan dinner and dessert.

(Thank you Wayne, for carrying this important message to the people of New Haven, across the country and to my friend John).

-CherylAnn Fernandes

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