What does it mean to live humanely? It differs from person to person. As a Humane Educator, I try to make a conscious effort to live as humanely as I can each day. I'm not going to lie - it's not always easy.
Let's start by defining "humane". According to Miriam-Webster, humane means:
1. Having or showing compassion or benevolence.
2. Inflicting the minimum of pain.
For me, living humanely starts with being kind to my husband in the morning. Don't laugh. I am NOT a morning person. I resent the alarm. Which can mean getting out of bed resenting everyone and everything. But I fight it. Before coffee (I know, shocking!). So, it may not sound like a big thing to you, but my husband is thankful for that commitment to starting the day humanely. (Side note: I am not always successful.)
It continues with my choice of breakfast (and all my daily meals and snacks). No meat, eggs or dairy. Living humanely to me means that I live #2 through my diet. For me, not eating meat is easy. For my husband, it is a constant struggle. Erik tries to make humane choices when he does eat meat or eggs, paying close attention to labels and picking the best possible source.
Driving in L.A. really tests the humane-ist person. I find that having an epic playlist helps. There are three that I'm currently rotating. Nothing puts a smile on my face like "Party Rock Anthem" or an old 80s favorite. When I am kind and tolerant, I find it makes my own drive more pleasant. Letting people over when they put their turn signal on (what a concept!) brings a thank you wave and puts a smile on my face. If you signal, I'm going to let you over. I don't need to race up and keep you out. What good does that do? We're driving. We'll both get there eventually. If you cut me off, I'm going to...well, some days I'm going to curse you and your kin under my breath and might even honk, but I try to make those times fewer. (Side note: I am not always successful)
I am very lucky to get to practice humane in my job. I love teaching Humane Education! Check out our presentation list here. Each day brings something different and the presentations always rotate. While I do hear many sad stories, I also hear uplifting ones. I get phonecalls from parents wanting numbers for low cost spay/neuter. I return to a school to find a 5th grader got their pet fixed thanks to the information I sent home with her as a 4th grader. You never know what is going to come out of a child's mouth! Last week during Dog Safety, I had a little girl tell me "Ms. Jennifer, you can't pet a goldfish. My fish doesn't like to be pet. You have to feed them everyday and I do. I feed my fish every afternoon as soon as I get home from school but I never, ever, ever pet him." She was so earnest. It was adorable.
Living humanely isn't always easy. We don't live in the most humane world. But if we each try to live as humanely as possible, as humanely as we are comfortable with, what a wonderful place this would be! Small humane gestures can speak volumes in lives and to this earth.
What about you - how do you try to live humanely?