Enlarging the Circle of Our Compassion

If we believe and act on the sayings of Bonhoeffer about what a society does for its children and with others about how a society may be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable [members] (please see “The Quotidian, July 20, 2010”), we are enlarging the circle of our compassion.

Earlier, I wrote that when we consider the most vulnerable within a society, we must include the young (especially the very young), the physically and mentally challenged, the ill, and the elderly. Essential, certainly – but I feel that we need to enlarge the circle of our compassion further.

I would argue that we must include animals. Why? Animals, both domesticated and wild, are heavily impacted by human activities.

What if we were to enlarge the circle of our compassion to include all living creatures? Is it even possible? I believe it is possible – and essential.

“…compassion, in which all ethics must take root, can only attain its full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to mankind.” – Albert Schweitzer (January 14, 1875 to September 4, 1965)

It is essential because we are living in the midst of what has been described as “The Sixth Great Extinction.” We are losing approximately 17,000 to 100,000 species of living organisms a year as a result of human activities.

The loss of biological diversity is potentially on a scale larger than any of the previous five great extinctions over hundreds of millions of years. This is difficult to grasp.

I read earlier that as early as 1993 Harvard biologist E. O. Wilson described “The Sixth Great Extinction.” So – this has been happening, and is happening right now, as we go about our lives.

About Andrew Shattuck McBride

I am a writer, editor, writing coach, and consultant. I work in a variety of genres, including poetry, short stories, and creative non-fiction. I also have a couple of novels simmering on back burners. THANK YOU to Nan Macy of Village Books for taking this photo (June 2011).
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