Think about it. What could be a more inclusive, more complete Purpose Statement than URI’s? In addition to promoting enduring interfaith cooperation and ending religiously motivated violence, we have also committed to creating “cultures of peace, justice, and healing for the Earth and All Living Beings”.
And then, to give greater contour to that concluding purpose, the closing commitment in URI’s Preamble is: “We unite to use our combined resources only for nonviolent, compassionate action, to awaken to our deepest truths, and to manifest love and justice among all life in our Earth community.”
My heart fills with gratitude this season of Thanksgiving for such an inspired and visionary calling by the world’s largest interfaith organization, our own loved United Religions Initiative.
So how might we more fully realize—“make real”—this commitment to peace, justice, and healing for the Earth and all living beings? How might we “awaken to our deepest truths and manifest love and justice among all of life in our Earth community?”
Here is a wonderful place to start!
Thanksgiving Day in the United States is this Thursday, November 22nd. Especially given that it is not a religious holiday, Thanksgiving is celebrated by people of many different faiths, as well as people who do not observe a faith tradition. It is therefore very likely the most celebrated holiday in the US, as well as many other households around the world.
And because it is a cherished time for family and friends to gather, a great many households enlarge the circle around their dining table by inviting in people who for whatever reason would otherwise be alone and lonely on the holiday.
And since expressing gratitude is fundamental in most religions, spiritual expressions and indigenous traditions (albeit manifest in many different forms), perhaps we can use the American Thanksgiving holiday as an opportunity to invite URI members around the world to join in taking tangible steps to express our gratitude “for all living beings”.
At the same time, on a more somber note, Thanksgiving Day could well be the single cruelest day of the entire calendar year globally in terms of numbers of animals “harvested”. I refer, of course, to the millions of turkeys whose roasted bodies can be found at the center of most Thanksgiving dining tables.
Isn’t it time for a change?
(And note that if a Thanksgiving turkey isn’t relevant to your own culture or geography, then how about the ham [pig] or lamb or beef [cow] or goat or chicken or rabbit or fish who adorns your holiday table?)
Appreciating Turkeys for Who They Are . . . which is Wonderful!
Please join me in celebrating turkeys as the intelligent, sensitive and social beings they are, full of life and love. When they are allowed to live their natural lives, roaming free, they form deep friendships and emotional bonds. They have a zest for life and enjoy their days. And they live for more than 10 years.
For a start, female turkeys are wonderful mothers, and mom is the center of the universe for her babies. If the young ones become separated, they will panic and send out a lost call. The mother bird will come running and gather them under her wing. In nature, turkeys spend up to 5 months close to their mothers.
Turkeys each have their own unique voice, and they can make more than 20 vocalizations (sounds). That’s how they recognize one another. Male turkeys gobble to attract the attention of the females, and this gobble can be heard from over a mile away.

Turkeys are masters of geography and can learn the precise details of an area more than 1000 acres in size. They’re great at finding treats, and one of their favorites is blackberries! Wild turkeys can fly up to 55 miles an hour and run 18 miles an hour.
Turkeys have been known to enjoy music and even to dance the flamenco!
Though we usually see turkeys wandering around on the ground, they will always choose to sleep up in the trees. They flutter up at dusk and fly down at dawn.
To see many of these behaviors in action, enjoy this wonderful short video: “Baby Turkey Sleeps on Lap,” by Jeremy Hess of VeganInteractions (https://www.facebook.com/groups/583888551756009/permalink/1484020455076143/).
Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Free-Range Turkeys,” by Angel Flinn and Dan Cudahy. Gentle World, November 19, 2010 (http://gentleworld.org/10-things-everyone-should-know-about-free-range-turkeys/).
Ten Things You Never Knew About Turkeys,” by Abigail Geer. Care2, October 15, 2014 (http://www.care2.com/causes/10-things-you-never-knew-about-turkeys.html).
Turkey Facts,” Farm Animal Rights Movement. Compassionate Holidays, accessed November 2018.(http://compassionateholidays.com/).
Recipes for Compassionate Holiday Dining (any time of the year!)
32 Vegan Recipes that Are Perfect for Thanksgiving,” by Christine Byrne; Buzzfeed, October 15, 2013 (https://www.buzzfeed.com/christinebyrne/vegan-thanksgiving-recipes).
Our Guide to 2018’s Turkey-Less Plant-Based Thanksgiving Entrees!” by Food Monster Editorial Team; One Green Planet, November 18, 2018 (https://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/turkeyless-plantbased-thanksgiving-entrees-2018).
Best Turkey-Free Main Dishes for Your Holiday,” by Ashley Capps; Free From Harm, November 12, 2018 (https://freefromharm.org/vegan-recipes/best-turkey-alternatives/).

May this Be Your First—Or Perhaps the Last . . .

Every person reading this is doing invaluable work in keeping with some part of the URI Purpose Statement quoted at the beginning of this message. To the extent that we each embrace and work to realize other aspects of the grand, overarching URI mission, we multiply our impact many, many times more.
And so, may this coming Thanksgiving—or whatever holiday comes next for you—be the first one that you choose to celebrate with totally compassionate dining.
If, however, if you’ve already bought the food or have otherwise committed to attending a turkey-centered Thanksgiving dinner this year, then may it be the last one that you observe in this way.
In closing, I offer this fun video for guidance on how to make the transition:
“DawnWatch Guide to Holiday Turkey Preparation” by Karen Dawn,
May we cherish the wonderful creatures we know turkeys to be!
With thanks for all that you do,
Cynthia Sampson, Asheville, North Carolina, USA
Compassion for All Living Beings Cooperation Circle

Extending Peace to All Living Beings

As the International Day of Peace (September 21st) approaches, we are excitedly looking forward to many special events and celebrations around the world. This will reinforce our commitment to promoting world peace above all differences and contributing towards building a Culture of Peace.

The URI Purpose states: “The purpose of the United Religions Initiative is to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings.”

The URI Preamble beautifully reads: “We unite to use our combined resources only for nonviolent, compassionate action, to awaken to our deepest truths, and to manifest love and justice among all life in our Earth community.”

Together, we are working hand-in-hand to promote peace in our lives, with impactful results emerging every day, as all faiths and cultures are engaged towards the common good in friendship and solidarity. Together, we are joining hands towards creating a peaceful community, creating a peaceful environment, and extending this peace to all.

That is why, for URI, every day is an International Day of Peace. Together, we celebrate September 21st in tribute to the great and lasting, impactful change that URI’s Cooperation Circles (CCs) stand for.

Peace is so much more than the absence of war. Peace is justice for all living beings.

Peace is so much more than the absence of war. Peace is justice for all living beings. As human beings, we can experience peace through our senses, in the quest for our soul to know blissful peace. We nurture our inner peace through quiet moments, meditation, prayer, the arts and listening to the still, silent voices of our hearts. We spread our peace, through our love and compassionate care to others.

When we look at the pets that we love and nurture, it is so very clear that just like people, the souls of animals embody their own unique personalities, awareness, and that beautiful spark that connotes the existence of the Divine. When we see them joyful, or when we see them suffering, we witness vast emotional lives, which often turn our hearts compassionately to their needs. Witnessing their growth through their sentience, we can easily reason that the concept of Ahimsa, or non-violence in word, thought and action, which was popularized by Mahatma Gandhi’s passive resistance movement in India, applies not only to how humans interact with each other, but also how we interact with all living beings.

Non-violence…applies not only to how humans interact with each other, but also how we interact with all living beings.

Although animals cannot speak in our human language, this does not mean that they do not have a voice. The range of animal sentience that is now being recognised is astounding – even a bull has been known to grieve at the death of his human owner; rats, who chuckle when being tickled and come back for more, have been found to be capable of altruism.

Pigeons have shown mathematical abilities on par with certain primates. As for parrots, they are a whole amazing story in itself; they have the emotional age of a toddler and the intelligence of a five-year-old. They bond so deeply with either their parrot or human companions that parting and separation cause great suffering to them, so much so that they have been known to stop eating and die as a result of this.

Therefore, let us urge our sisters and brothers that peace must extend to every creature if we are to truly celebrate our legacies in this world of ours. Let us remember that they, too deserve an environment of peace, where animals that are wild can have access to their natural habitats, places to roam and free-flowing water. For animals that are captive, let us stand together for these, the most helpless and dependent of creatures, and call for an end to their torture, and the associated unsafe practices of confinement and mistreatment.

When animals are screaming in terror and pain—in places of science or where they are “farmed,” cruelly transported, and slaughtered—we mustn’t close our eyes to their torment and grief. Instead, let us but open our hearts to appreciate these remarkable and beautiful souls who need our love and care and help, who feel physical pain, fear and sorrow at the loss of loved ones. Let us be their voice.

For how long can we be silent spectators to their suffering?

As human beings and in the spirit of stewardship, let us serve them and honour their spirit. Our eyes are the mirrors of our soul and therefore our true reflection. For how long can we be silent spectators to their suffering?

As long as our abuse and exploitation of animals continues on the grand scale that it does, can our world ever know true peace? This I very much doubt.

In the sixth century BC,  Pythagoras, the mathematician and mystic philosopher stated, “As long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.”

Selective peace for some does not comprise real peace in our interconnected world. Peace must not stop at our doorstep. If we really want to ensure peace in our world, let us not be participants of this bloodshed.

Let us not forget, their misery in this interconnected world is also our misery.

Let us raise our voice against cruelty to animals and learn how to live in harmony with all living beings. We can do this by eating vegan (free of any animal products) and buying cruelty-free clothing and cosmetics. Let us raise our voices and wield our pocketbooks against animal testing, and the cruelty of factory farms. And let us not forget, their misery in this interconnected world is also our misery.

As we mark the International Day of Peace, may we remember to honour all of our fellow beings with love. Let us make our voices and actions of peace resonate in a just environment for all living beings.

Let us be that peace we wish to see.

Learn more about Compassion for All Living Beings (C4ALB) Cooperation Circle.