The importance of compassion in a disconnected world
It is a rare thing; the ability to extract hope from even the most dismal of circumstances. To see the world crumbling around you, and always be there to pick up the pieces. To face the full extent of suffering you aim to prevent, and never let it sway you from your path. But it is something that Edgar’s Mission does so very well.
Over 300 farm animals call the sanctuary home, each with their own set of senses in which to experience the world, and none of which being denied the simple wonders that come with being present in the world. Each with their own story to tell. Orphaned lambs who would have perished in the winter chill, saved from becoming a mere statistic; instead thriving and offering their own unique personalities to those who see them for who they truly are. Goats, the renowned ‘clowns’ and truly quirky characters, gambolling around cheekily and relishing their life of freedom. Pigs, with snouts free to plough endlessly though the earth and never seen without a smile, a far cry from the hapless faces seen peeking out longingly through the slats of transport trucks. Disabled animals who most would have long ago given up on, not considered worthy enough to be given a fighting chance or time for rehabilitation and healing.
As the world plunges deeper into the future, seeking widespread progress and blinded forward movement at whatever the cost, it is their mission to ensure that no animal gets left behind. To provide a second chance to those who would have surely been forgotten. Because at the heart of the ever expanding list of atrocities animals suffer at human hands, lay the farmed animals; the perpetually abused and least advocated for. The deliberately silenced and preferably unheard, conveniently hidden from view because we know if we start to look too long we will acknowledge the lives that they undoubtedly deserve. They alone bear the brunt of human desensitisation that has arisen as a consequence of our heavily industrialised society, and it is a lonely place indeed.
It is a paradoxical yet sinisterly accurate notion, that in the process of becoming more connected through means of technological advances, we have in fact disconnected ourselves from each other, from nature and from our actions. The world has become a place of anonymity, a mass produced swarm of activity and of faces that all look the same.
So perhaps the most significant thing Edgar’s Mission does, is remind us of the importance of remembering the individual. Those telltale traits distinctive to each and every living entity, all slightly different from the next. That all life matters, and has an inherent purpose beyond which and independent of the use it may provide for others. For without this recognition, we are dangerously prone to condoning forms of large scale collective oppression.
Fuelled by human greed and indifference, animal agriculture serves as an alarming manifestation of our capacity for detachment; a score of accepted ideologies based around a highly mechanised production line of insatiable proportions. One can easily get complacent upon entering the gates of Edgar’s Mission, with contented animals and humans alike; a more tranquil place you might struggle to find. The sun never ceases to shine over the sanctuary, which provides us with a vision of what the world could look like if we gave compassion a chance.
But we must never forget their beginnings, the places they were born into and the cruel fates they managed to escape. Edgar’s Mission strives to bring about awareness of the plight of all those animals they are simply unable to save, educating people on a spectrum of animal issues present not just in Australia but the world. While the current state of affairs may seem insurmountable and change unattainable, they raise hope among their supporters by spreading a message of kindness and promoting empowerment rather than despair.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead
As a volunteer, I consider it an incredible privilege to be a part of and experience behind the scenes of such an esteemed and worthy organisation. It’s the kind of fulfilling hard work where you see the difference you’re helping to make in the animals’ lives. In reflection, I remember walking out into a paddock on just my third day there, to find everyone huddled together at a distance from where a rescued dairy cow was about to give birth. It was to be the first time she would get to keep her baby, and in that moment I thought to myself ‘This is something really special.’
Life carries with it an air of mystery just beyond our grasp and abilities of deduction. But on occasion, there are snatches of time when everything seems to make sense. Often times Edgar’s Mission rely on the kindness of others to alert them to or bring them animals in need of care. The spontaneity and unpredictability of everyday life, for many of these animals, has lead to their discovery. It can mean the difference between succumbing to their condition or living a full and happy life. And when you come across a vulnerable person or an animal, you somehow know that life brought you to this point for a reason. Because it is the smallest of actions that carry the most weight, and that can sometimes also turn a life around.
We are often detached from the fleeting acts of kindness we might hear about, having to view from a distance, and this can accentuate our lack of connection with the world. It makes a big difference to be able to look the subject in the eye, knowing they’ve been saved from a life of neglect, abandonment, or not even a life at all.
It is a curious thing, to contemplate that some of the best people you’ll meet could be waiting just around the corner. One action, one conversation, one moment away. That a decision, however small or overlooked, can come to hold a vital importance in your life. The seat you choose on your first day of university, the hobbies and activities you pursue, and which organisations you reach out to. Sometimes, the most wonderful thing about life is that you can never quite tell what your future holds until you find yourself planted in the midst of it. And the best kind of future is one that makes you realise how enriched your life is compared to before.
“If we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others… why wouldn’t we?”