Modern lives here in a "civilized" world are hectic, to say the least. We are bombarded by things coming at us all day long. At work, at home and everywhere in-between there are responsibilities to take care of, goals and ambitions to pursue. The more we achieve, we more responsibility we take on. No wonder at all that most of us have a hard time managing our priorities or making sound decisions. And in our "spare" time, when we are commuting to work or sitting on the coach half-asleep watching TV, we are fed by advertisement to further impair our judgment and tell us what we should want from life and what is normal. The news makes us feel powerless and the lack of inspiration robs us of our right and responsibility to question what we can do to change the world to be a more peaceful harmonious place.
As an animal rights activist, I have talked to many people about taking steps to make a difference, and most become defensive or say that it doesn't matter because they are just one person and one person cannot change things. Deep down we all know that it isn't true, I can easily produce a list of amazing people who have singlehandedly changed the world, and so could anyone who takes a few moments to focus on remembering their contributions. We, the people, need to take pride in our humanity and learn humility, for all life is precious and it isn't just our species that have been awarded this amazing gift. And we need to snap out of this numbing haze that we find ourselves in and think about the consequences of our actions and about our contributions to what the world has become as a result of them. We need to take responsibility and adjust to a kinder, more compassionate way of living, to appreciate and honor ourselves, our human and non-human brothers and sisters and cherish our planet. Every individual deserves love and respect, including animals. When we stand up for them, we are also standing up for ourselves.
Most people claim that they want world peace and that they love animals, but when presented with an opportunity to shift to a non-violent way of living they hold on to old habits as if their life depended on it. I was stunned by the way my fellow Buddhists responded when I explained to them how raising animals for food promotes violence and wastes valuable natural resources. There was a moment of silence and then people started grasping at straws as to why they had to continue doing what they are doing despite the fact that billions of animals are dying every year in this country alone and before they die they are treated like machines, without any compassion, love or respect. If we truly want to work to promote world peace, we can't turn behavior that seeds from violence on and off as it’s convenient to us. If we participate in violence by producing and consuming animal products, we have a foundation of violence in our bodies and our minds. How can we then be peaceful with each other? Do we think that we can be violent at certain times and not at others? After being desensitized by the “necessary” violence, it becomes the norm and a habit.
I know that it isn't easy to face what is being done and take responsibility for your part as a consumer (which essentially translates to paying factory farms to kill the animals for you or enslave them in horrible conditions to save a buck during milk and egg production). It took me some time to get where I am, but now that I have fully grasped the reality of situation, I can see clearly that making excuses for irrational behavior is a sign of addiction. One should feel compassion for people who are addicted and for those who feel that their actions won't make a difference. And I do, but the bottom line is that the suffering of those beings that are treated as machines and slaughtered for food is so much more acute then what people who eat them ever experience. Sorrow that I feel in my heart is overwhelming at times and there is little room left for making sure that I don't step on people's toes. I try not to tell anyone what they should eat while they are eating it, but if you repeatedly comment on how good-looking “your” bacon is, I will mention without fail that it must have come from one-good looking pig and I won’t feel the need to apologize.
I have pledged my life to creating world peace through non-violence toward all living beings. I am committed to giving a voice to those whose cries cannot be heard by the time they become a meal and to our precious planet without which we cannot exist. We are not separate from one another, all of us - animals, humans and environment. Whatever happens to animals also has an impact on people, thus the prevalence of modern disease such as heart disease, cancer and AIDS. Whatever happens to the environment impacts not only the quality of our lives, but our very existence. It is common knowledge that we need air, water, food and shelter to survive. Then why are we letting factory farms pollute our water and soil? Why do we accept it as a normal practice to use poison to grow our crops and pay money for food pumped with chemicals and antibiotics, and sprayed with pesticide? We, the people, are fully capable of standing up for what's right and making a difference, even if the only action we take is refusing to give money to greedy farm factory owners and corporations which put profits above all else. We, the people, haven’t even scratched the surface of our true potential. It is time to live our lives to the fullest, healthy, happy and inspired, and to let other beings have what we want for ourselves - the right to be free.
Ever since I can remember I was surrounded by plants and animals as a child. My grandparents lived in a house with a big yard where we grew grapes, strawberries, raspberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce and herbs. We had fruit trees scattered all over the yard. As far as the garden was concerned, life was organic and full of taste. And there was always someone to pet, someone to love who needed caring affection. When my family moved from Ukraine to the US, we were separated from my grandparents and from that kind of life. My mom often yearns for a piece of land to plant something and make it grow. She loves the smell of soil and the muddy earth on her hands. I miss being close to the land as well and sometimes wish that I owned an apple orchard. I would get lost in the fruit paradise on a cool summer afternoon and find that peace once again, one with nature, eating my favorite fruit right off a tree, juicy and nurturing, its nectar - the cleanest water on Earth. One day I will plant dozens or maybe even hundreds of apple trees, but for now I am content with one enormous cat tree that’s taking up a corner of the living room in my small apartment… well that, and my two amazing cats that I get to pick off it as if they were fruit.
Cats, amazing – I know, not everyone is a cat person, but they truly are wonderful little creatures that light up my life. My son and I got our first cat four years ago from North Shore Animal League as a birthday present for me. It was a very hard time for both of us because I just got separated from my then husband. I was sad, angry, anxious about the situation and worried about my son who wasn’t taking it very well. He loved his dad and being five and a half couldn’t understand why all of a sudden his parents weren’t living together anymore and why they were fighting any time they were around each other. All the yelling and crying of the pervious few months has also taken a toll on him and he was very sad and apathetic. I don’t know what was hurting me more - things that were going on between me and his father or seeing my son this way. I only knew one thing, it was going to get worse for all involved if I didn’t get my wits together and ended that unfortunate ordeal. Time heals everything, they say, so I just took deep breaths and did my best. It was a natural progression of thought, a knowing of a kind that whispered in my ear one day that we needed a cat. My son loves animals and was thrilled when I told him that we are going to adopt a kitten. And so we went to the Animal League with intent to find a perfect kitten to be a part of our small family.
There were cages full of dogs and puppies, cats and kittens. It was heartbreaking to see them locked behind metal bars, unable to run around as animals should, but these were the lucky few that had a chance of staying alive and being adopted and loved. My son and I picked up and petted different kittens, there were so many to pick from that our heads started spinning. We walked around wondering how we were going to choose. Just then I kneeled down to see a kitten in one of the lower cages, she was a skinny little thing, a tabby with big ears and intelligent eyes. My son and I asked to hold her and when we did she purred loudly, selecting us to take her home and be her family. I haven’t seen my son smile so much in a long time. Even though the kitten made herself comfortable without hesitation in our apartment, he followed her everywhere as she walked around with her tail up, purring and sniffing, sniffing and purring. And when he went to sleep, she nestled close to him and stayed there all night, occasionally grooming his hair. She did that every night until he notably cheered up and started smiling not only at home (both of us couldn’t help but smile when around her), but in school and out when playing with friends. It is amazing that one little kitten had the power to bring joy to our injured hearts with her mere presence. But that’s what pets do - they extend our hearts, heal us, show us the way to brighter more joyful lives. They are our companions and our friends. They teach us to love deeper, without selfishness, without holding back our affection and by that they fix the parts of us that were broken. They feel when we are sad or in pain and they comfort us. It is not a coincidence that Kisa chose to sleep next to my son when he was upset and that she still does that whenever he has a bad day. She cuddles next to my stomach when I have a stomachache and purrs my discomfort away.
There is an overabundance of animals in shelters and on the streets needing a home and a loving family. It is a distressing reality that many animals are killed simply because nobody wants them, as if it is their fault that they were born and haven’t found someone to love and protect them. There are plenty of families that could use some healing and an infusion of hope from feeling compassion. Why not adopt a pet and help each other? As people give love, so they shall receive. As people let themselves feel affection, their hearts grow stronger, bigger and brighter. And with that physical and emotional healing occurs and their spirits are set free from the suffering of the past.
It’s often said that people can't appreciate something or someone until it is gone. Probably one of the most taken for granted treasures is health. Most of us are born with it and are unaware of any other way of being until we discover that sickness is truly a state of suffering. I was born with the wonderful gift of beaming health, but almost died in childhood of pneumonia which kept returning over and over again. All through childhood I have struggled with colds and flu. At twenty nine I had a surgery to remove a benign growth off my small intestine. Five days in the hospital and twenty pounds lighter, I came home with a new outlook on hospitals and sickness and an attitude of gratitude for still being alive. My time at the hospital when I was a child is forgotten, but the few days I spent there about four years ago are fresh in my memory. I remember waking up from surgery to blindingly bright light and nausea so overwhelming that I thought that I surely would vomit all over the nurse that was checking on me in the ICU. I probably would have, but I lost consciousness again and don't remember anything until I was woken up by two other nurses and asked to move myself from the stretcher to the hospital bed. I vividly remember the pain that seemed to infiltrate every single cell of my body with agony. I remember the state of hopelessness that filled hospital air and its smell of sickness and death. Coming back home was a celebration and a breath of fresh air. I truly believe that there is only so much progress that can be accomplished at the hospital before it starts getting to you and depressing you back to illness.
When again faced with illness in the beginning of this year I spent one night tormented by half woken nightmares and anguish. I saw a thousand different ways that I could possibly die, and even though I can smile about it now and say that it was silly because there can only be one way to die and therefore I would never have to suffer through the remaining nine hundred ninety nine, it was a very gloomy dark night. I couldn't imagine not only living through another surgery and hospital stay, but being drugged, cut and experimented on. And this is coming from me, a person who had a natural childbirth and considered it to be one of the most beautiful inspiring experiences of my life. There is nothing natural or magical about being sick and operated on. There is no fervently anticipated reward for suffering through pain. There is, however, a sense of deep disappointment and regret that usually accompanies a serious illness. So, once I found out that I can do some surprisingly simple things to prevent a great deal of possible future suffering, I made major shifts in my diet and lifestyle practically overnight. I am one of those people who don't need to be warned twice and therefore I am not going to wait until another health crisis to make the move. People are surprised. They keep asking me what I use for protein, whether I missed meat and comment on how extreme of a sacrifice it seems to be to live this way.
"What sacrifice?" I laugh to myself. A sacrifice is when you give up something dear to you without getting anything in return. I, on the other hand, haven't given up much beyond some acquired tastes and habits and gained a whole lot of benefits. The situation is a win-win if you ask me. I gave up pleasing my taste buds with harmful foods and in return found other pleasant tastes, clarity of mind, spikes in creativity, inner peace, more energy and stamina, and stronger health. Did I miss meat? - No!! Where do I get my protein? - Everywhere!! It's in nuts, seeds, legumes and grains. It's even in fruits and vegetables. Is it complete protein that contains all the essential amino acids? - It doesn't have to be because protein has to be broken down into smaller units which are then either used or stored in the amino acid "storage bank". This storage bank is there to be drawn from when proteins that are needed by the body are reassembled to their usable form. Moreover, as pointed out by Doris Lin in her article on animal rights, sacrifice, by definition, is surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim. She writes, "The implication is that the prized or desirable thing being surrendered belongs to the person making the sacrifice. It can't be a sacrifice to surrender someone else's prized or desirable possession." She makes an excellent point! She says that veganism is not about giving up, it is about not taking.
After the weekend at the summer house last July I came home feeling angry and frustrated. My own family was seriously annoyed at me for speaking up about animal rights and for no longer being able to suppress my repulsion at the sight of meat at the dinner table. I agree that I might have spoiled their appetite when I made the sounds of disgust while they bit in “juicy” pieces of fried pork. I couldn’t help it, and I couldn’t help moving myself and my plate of bright crispy vegetables farther away from their plates filled with oiled chunks of animal carcass. I got yelled at for behaving disrespectfully. There was no point arguing that there was nothing respectful about killing animals for food, that would only lead to more yelling at the table and tears would surface in at least one of us by the end of the argument. I tried to suppress my deep disappointment and anger, I thought that my mom and I were on the same page, but I was wrong! Carefully observing the sounds that I made, I finished my salad as fast as I could and fled away from the dinner table to chant my frustrations out.
After chanting I dug further into my books. I needed to hear another voice that matched my own so that I wouldn’t feel so alone in the world. I quietly hugged my son and diverted my attention to yet another book on Raw Food. Coincidentally, I reached the chapter on animal rights. I read colorful descriptions of things that go on in the slaughterhouses and tears blurred my vision. I was no longer able to hold them back, they were freely flowing down my cheeks and dripping on the pages depicting the horrible scenes. In a midst of a crying bout I questioned myself whether I really needed to hear these gruesome details, but then a sentence struck me in the heart – while it is painful to read about the suffering of animals, it is by no means comparable to the pain that animals are subjected to. If the animals have no other choice but to endure the things that go on in the slaughterhouses, then we should not turn a blind eye on it and have the courage to face the truth. Paul McCartney said - “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.” People need to be aware! (Choose to be aware by watching a video.) For the rest of the trip I resisted talking about animals or food or anything related to the subject. But, on the two and a half hour ride home from the summer house we had another argument. This time it was about helpful benefits of yoga and its potential to make people more peaceful. My optimistic view was shot down immediately. I got overruled by my mom and my brother, with my son and my ex step father sitting quietly and wishing that they weren’t in the car. It took me by surprise that even something as seemingly unoffending as yoga practice that integrates body, mind and spirit could bring such a negative response from my family. As a firm believer in its benefits because I experienced them for myself, I defended my view only to be accused of not being accepting of views of others! I wanted to say that there was nothing wrong with believing that something like yoga could make people more peaceful and positive, bringing forth the compassion toward all living beings. I could hardly get two words out at a time - both my brother and my mom kept loudly interrupting me, “No, Nadia! No, you’re wrong!” Talk about being disrespectful of other people’s views. Our voices got loud and out of control, and once my brother told me that I haven’t changed one bit toward being more peaceful because of my yoga practice, I was no longer able to hold back the anger that I tried to control for the past two days. I just hated the negativity, the disbelief and the way that my opinions got shot down by my own family. I admit that I have yelled louder that I should have and that there came a point when I didn’t want to speak or to be spoken to by either one of them. I was unable to talk to my family about anything that mattered to me and I felt like my heart had been squeezed to fit in a tight little box, never to be taken out in their presence. I stared at the window as we drove in heavy silence for another hour, tears dripping down my cheeks again, thoughts of walking away from them once and for all filling my mind. I called my boyfriend when I got home. He listened and carefully tried to calm me down, explaining to me that I can’t push other people to believe what I believe in. I understood all that, but the sense of urgency was overwhelming. I felt stuck in the “culture of death” kind of world where people were more concerned with you making a silly noise at the dinner table than with the fact that millions of animals are dying every day. I was in an awful mood and knew that talking about the issue wasn’t a good idea anymore, so I tried to get off the phone, letting my boyfriend know that that I needed some quiet time. As he often does, he ignored my warning and continued to push the conversation further, this time bringing up his Italian culture and heritage and how he didn’t see his life without having pasta and meatballs. Before I knew it I was weeping hysterically, I felt the pain of the animals as my own, saw each of their deaths as something that I needed to prevent, but being unable to talk to anyone about it I felt like I failed them. I wept for a while and by the time I was out of tears my whole body ached and my head felt swollen. I was doing it again, making myself physically ill because I was emotionally upset. I got myself to chant for a little bit even though my throat was sore and my eyes were puffy and red. Since every problem in life can be resolved, there must be a solution. And my crying myself to sleep was not it! I won’t be helpful to any animals ever if I don’t pull myself together and learn how to be patient with people, understanding that it takes time to change a perspective on something like this. The next day at lunch I went online, looking for websites that encouraged vegan lifestyle. I visited PETA and Humane Society, but I craved a human connection. I wanted to read personal articles by people who were vegans and who, despite the opposition, had the courage to bring up their kids vegan as well. On one of the websites that I found there were beautiful pictures of children and animals. Those children were brought up to treat a dog and a pig the same way, with love and respect. It was lovely and I didn’t feel as alone anymore. There was one picture in particular that touched me – a baby holding a tiny kitten. It was a symbol of harmony and deep cross-species friendships. At that moment I wished with all my heart that I could have a second cat. It may seem silly, but the thought made me warm and toasty inside, like a hot bath on a winter day after playing in the snow, but much more pleasant. I went back to work, putting the thought aside, leaving it as an idea that may one day manifest itself into a reality. I got home and went back to the usual routine with my son, calmer, more relaxed and determined to figure this out without starting a war with everyone who didn’t agree. My son and I went to get pizza for him. Sadly, he hardly eats anything and pizza is one of the few foods that he loves. When we came back to our house my neighbor called me with urgency. I went outside to see what happened. I was flabbergasted to see a tiny black and white kitten trotting clumsily on the grass under my window. He let out a tiny meow and my heart floated upward like a balloon. I loved him, the little fur ball of a creature with bright blue eyes, pink nose and pointy ears. He must have been three or four weeks old. My neighbor didn’t know if it was a boy or a girl, but I had a feeling that it was a little he. I was about to call my son, but he was already running out toward us, barefoot, pizza forgotten. I watched him settle on the sidewalk with a little kitten which was now playfully biting his hand, running to get his toe and then his other hand. Maximus and the kitten seemed to be in their own little world - he was giggling, kitten was running around him in circles and purring. My neighbor told me that she found the kitten a few days ago at her doorstep and that she could only keep him temporarily, she already had two cats at home. The kitten needed a home and a loving family. I didn’t expect the kitten to be handed to me the same day when I made a hypothetical wish, but here I was. Maximus was pleading, even though he was pretty sure that I would say no. I told him many times that we already had one cat and there was no space in our one bedroom apartment to have more animals. Plus, my boyfriend wasn’t really a cat person and we have talked about moving in together at some point. Having two cats would be complicated. As thoughts zipped from why I should to why I shouldn’t and back, I was overcome with love toward the little guy and before I knew it, I was telling my neighbor that I wanted to take him. I needed to straighten some things out before I could do it, but the more I thought about it, the more I was convinced that his presence there was a gift from the universe, its reaction to my heartfelt wish earlier in the day. We went home and the kitten was on my mind every single moment, no matter what I busied myself with. I would get him, I decided! If my boyfriend couldn't deal with me adopting an animal then he just didn’t get me or didn’t care to get me and we weren’t supposed to be together. I called my neighbor and told her that I would be happy to adopt the little guy. I then called my mom, forgetting the anger that I felt and seeing the fight that we had as an insignificant milestone of our relationship. Just a day before I felt like I could never talk to her again, but the kitten filled my heart with love where there was pain and I was able to see past our disagreements - she just needed more time, I should be patient and encouraging. She was surprised to hear my voice. Not sure if I will yell more or not, she cautiously asked me what was going on. I couldn’t hold back my giggles, “Mom! Guess what?! I am adopting a kitten…”
One weekend in July my son and I went to my mom’s summer house in Pennsylvania!. I brought loads of fresh organic fruits and vegetables to last me while I was there. Everyone else ate what they usually ate. Even though my mom was the one who suggested that I would read the Raw Food book and believed the concept to be genuine, she wasn’t ready to switch completely. She started to include more salads and replaced breakfast with fruit and then she was what I call stuck, for the time being. I encouraged her to stop eating meat, especially the meat that was fried or contained large chunks of fat, but at one point she asked me to stop badgering her. I guess I did it one too many times. Now that I was aware of how unhealthy it was and how much suffering this kind of lifestyle promoted, I just couldn’t stop myself from telling people that it wasn’t a good idea to eat that poor pig, cow or chicken. Just like in case of a seatbelt, I was making the annoying “beeping” sound, “Beep, don’t eat that! Beep, that’s an animal right there! Don’t you care!?” In this case, however, I didn’t feel like I needed to apologize because while it is surely a person’s choice whether they want to wear a seat belt or get a ticket, or to eat foods that are unhealthy, the animals, however, are not given a choice and that is not right.
By eating meat we are supporting the “culture of death”, as Gabriel Cousins calls it. As long as we buy meat, the animals will be grown for food. They will live miserable lives until it’s time for them to be killed and become dinners. The idea of animals dying to be on our plates may not bother some at first because we, as society, made it acceptable and even expected to sacrifice other species for the joy of being alive. For many, a fancy dinner is the highlight of their existence, and if you ask them to give up eating meat, you will get the same rebellious response that you have gotten back in the days of slavery. They need meat just like slave owners needed slaves. Well, guess what – slavery has been abolished and now everyone in a civilized society seems to agree that it was unethical and wrong. So, why not go a step further and cherish not only the lives of people of different races, but also of animals. They too can think, feel and love! The truth is that we don’t need animals to die in order to stay alive. Our obsession with consumption of meat is driven by our appetites and the bottomless wallets of the meat industry owners who only care about making a buck. Just like the truth about the ever speeding demise of our precious planet, this truth may be inconvenient, especially for those who hide their selfishness behind the protein myth.
As human beings, we are free to choose how we will live out our lives. We are free to choose to be more compassionate and kind, even if wisdom to do so is slightly out of reach in the present moment. I understand that it is hard to walk away from something that has become a culture or a tradition, from something that you have identified with all your life, to walk out of your comfort zone and into the unknown. I must agree, it was easier for me than most, but it is only because of years of seemingly invisible progression toward this goal. We all are in different places in our lives. Some of us can do more than others, but we all should do something, even if it is only thinking about the problem. Devoting some time to honestly reflect on the issue is the hardest thing to do - to many this is a foreign concept that the mind can’t wrap itself around. But, all great things start with a thought. After all, the world is only as big as your perception of it. Open up your mind to the possibilities and expand it as far as your heart desires!
My mom and I were convinced by the book and I was willing to try it, there was no point waiting until the health was declined to the point when one is bedridden before “scooping down” to unconventional methods that others scoffed at. “Cures cancer, ha!” – most people said, “Wouldn’t doctors know about this?” My boyfriend was very skeptical and, like most people I was surrounded by, discouraged me from undertaking the “experiment”. It was very hard for him to watch me change in front of his eyes. All over a sudden I didn’t drink coffee, milk or soda anymore, nor did I eat any processed foods, foods containing heated oil, white flour, sugar or meat. Some days everything I ate was raw and vegan. I fervently defended my newfound beliefs and to provide him with more evidence I started researching holistic healing online. There were so many stories of people overcoming serous and “incurable” illnesses and they were all talking about the Raw Food Vegan Diet. I got numerous books on the subject and hungrily read them. After dealing with negativity and disbelief from friends and coworkers, I wanted to establish connections with people with similar mindset and reading those books was almost like talking to people who wrote them.
The biopsy results came back negative! I was to be retested again later in the year. I breathed a sigh of relief and continued to chant and read. I wasn’t switching back to Standard American Diet (SAD, it really is sad!) now that I knew the things that I knew. My eyes have been opened and in a way I am glad that the whole incident happened. It caused me to really delve into my being, to learn and discover things that I was not aware of, important things that every person should know so that they can make educated decisions about their health. By April, after a month of closely following the system I finally overcame a three week “cold” that I was having, lost 18 pounds (I went a little faster than was suggested when switching, thus creating a sped up process of detoxification), going back to my high school weight and had loads of energy to run in circles if I wanted to. My stomach problems that tormented me on almost daily basis were gone, the allergies, and with them constant sneezing and sinus headaches, were nonexistent.
After the initial key switch to eat more naturally, I continued experimenting with foods that were still on the menu and eliminated a few more. By June, I was vegan (except for honey) and proud! I wanted to stop eating meat for the longest time, ever since I became a Buddhist. Nichiren Daishonin Buddhism doesn’t have a requirement for people to be vegetarians, it is something that each one of us has to come to realize on our own, but I always knew that one day I will do it. I love animals and eating flesh disturbs and disgusts me. Any time that I ate meat in the past, I had to pretend that it wasn’t a piece of an animal that I had in my mouth. I have to admit that some of it, clean boneless stakes and white chicken meat, tasted good, as long as the thought of what it was that I was eating didn’t cross my mind. Sometimes it did and I then I had to urgently search for a napkin to spit the food out before it caused me to gag.
Just like my ex-husband dismissed my interest in Buddhism as another one of my unfinished projects, my boyfriend didn’t think that the whole “I don’t eat meat anymore” streak would last. Well, I have been chanting for almost eight years and have no intention of ever stopping. The same goes for being vegan. Just because something is new doesn’t mean that it isn’t serious! Besides, there isn’t one reason for me to come back to eating meat. Innocent animals live a life of suffering, get tortured and then get killed so that humans can have some food on their plates that they can’t even digest properly because their bodies aren’t made for assimilating animal protein. Growing stock for meat consumption majorly contributes to pollution of our environment. It isn’t good for my health and even the idea of tasting it is repelling. There is no more pretending that the stake is not some poor cow dissected in pieces. I can see its sad eyes looking at me with horror as it is being jolted by a shock of electricity. I want to weep for it. I want to beg its forgiveness for my greedy selfish appetite of the past, for other people who don’t know any better and for those who just don’t give a damn. Humans have been rewarded with independence, intelligence and creativity. But we, misunderstanding the gift announced that we are superior to all and let our egos grow out of proportion. Instead of fulfilling our roles as the protectors of the Earth, we selfishly proceed to mow everything that stands in the way of getting what we want.