As often happens, what I read and write tends to overlap. That is, while drafting or right after publishing, I'll read something that pertains directly to what I just wrote. It can be a magical synergy-like thing, or sometimes, a needed kick in the pants.
The day after I lamented the state of our planet and pinned my hopes on its survival on youngsters like Henry Marr (how fair was that, actually?) I read what I thought was the best chapter in Circles of Compassion. To be honest I'm not fully convinced that the book succeeded in accomplishing the aim of its subtitle: essays connecting issues of justice, but the last chapter before Will Tuttle's conclusion was, I thought, the most action-oriented and the most inspiring to me personally.
In it, author Zoe Weil outlines her MOGO principle for a more peaceful, sustainable and humane world. MOGO is short for "most good" and seeks to answer the question, "what does the most good and the least harm?" as a way of helping us make better choices. She begins her chapter by asking readers to imagine how they would answer this question from a hypothetical child from a future better world, "What role did you play in creating the good world we have today?" As she rightly points out, if we don't envision the world we want and identify our own part in its unfolding, it is harder to both imagine and bring about. It also places responsibility on each of us, instead of dumping that burden on future Henry Marrs.
The MOGO principle works best when recognizing the intersections between human rights, animal protection and environmental preservation. Ms. Weil also stresses that while the principle is simple in theory, it can be challenging in practice, and as an example outlines both the destructive and helpful aspects of a common technological item such as a laptop.
Without going into further detail from her section in the book (she has written, by the way, her own book Most Good, Least Harm: A Simple Principle for a Better World and Meaningful Life), here are the seven keys that she's identified which can help people put the MOGO principle into practice:
- live your epitaph
- pursue joy through service
- make connections and self reflect
- model your message and work for change
- find and create community
- take responsibility, and
- strive for balance
These keys make a lot of sense, and I look forward to reading more of her work.
p.s. After encouragement from some of my readers to go read We Animals already, I have finally started and concur with their assessment -- it's an excellent book. Jo-Anne McArthur has done a superb job indeed, and both her photographs and text are haunting, beautiful, evocative, skillful, and highly intelligent. But having said that, a part of me still wishes I had never opened it. I'm on the second chapter, Food, now, and can only read a few pages at a time* before my levels of anger and disgust threaten to get dangerously high. I am misanthropic enough as it is, so am planning to read the chapter called Mercy last, and thus hope to end on a more hopeful note.
* nope, stuck on page 98 now, and can't seem to go any further...