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 conference.
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 get there?
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.