Searching For Common Ground

Have you noticed the proliferation of pet videos and photos on the Internet?  I get these emails several times a week.  And AOL has noticed that I click on all the animal stories so now they send me even more, of all kinds of animals!  From the stories of the Great White Sharks to the newest tree frogs in Borneo, they arrive at my computer.  And I look at all of them.

Why are there so many animal videos, photos and stories?  I think it is our need for a natural antidote to the anger and stress of our lives. Our culture has become so cynical that we cannot find any comfort or softness in our own species so we turn to the “innocents” of the planet to find our connections.

I have several emails of animals from different species who are “friends” and this goes way beyond cats and dogs.  It’s a moose and a cat, a chimp and a dog, a giraffe and an ostrich, an elephant and a sheep, etc.  Like Rodney King asked so long ago, “Can’t we all just get along?”  Animals say Yes!  People are not so sure.

I was incredibly lucky to attend a talk by Arun Gandhi, the Mahatma’s grandson.  Much of his talk was about the balance of materialism and ethics.  He said when people get caught up in increasing their material possessions, their ethics decline.  Our sense of community and responsibility for others has declined to the point that people feel so alone, so isolated.  The news is filled with egotistical politicians, kidnapped women and children, and mass shootings.  Can’t we all just get along?  Evidently, it is really a challenge.

So we turn to our best friends, our childhood pals, the animals.  We post the videos of our adorable dogs, cats, llamas, horses, mice, in hopes of reaching out to other like-hearted folks, for connection, for common ground.  The animals are the avatars of our better selves.  If I can’t show you my soft belly, I can show you my kitty’s.

When we feel down, we can always click on to the to feel better.  It gives the phrase “Pet Therapy” a whole new meaning!

Think about what your priorities are.  Do they include really connecting with those you love?  Do they include spending quality time with your family and friends?  Use this moment to check in with yourself and review what your priorities are.  Are they what is really best for you and yours?  If the answer is Yes!, then congratulations to you!  If not, think about what you need to change, and get started!