PAWS Magazine

Issue 43, Fall 1999

Hope For the New Millennium

Mike Lowry
Former Governor Washington State

Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Ghandi, Albert Einstein... looking back at some of history's most influential people brings to mind a great many contributions to our world. Yet these unique men also shared a conviction that is not so well known: a deep and abiding respect for all living creatures.

It was Ghandi who said, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated..." Abraham Lincoln spoke of being "in favor of animals' rights as well as human rights" as a way of becoming a whole human being. And Albert Einstein urged that we "free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."

Today, as we embrace a future that cannot help but be framed by the past, we can choose to carry forward not only the gifts of their intellect and commitment to peace and freedom, but also the compassion and reverence for life that drove each of these men toward greatness. An interdependence between the lives each of us choose to live and true respect for the world around us will always lead to actions and solutions that benefit the whole of our existence.

In the very practical world of earning a living, paying the bills, and caring for our families, we know that protecting the environment is good business, that respect for others builds the strongest communities, and that integrity in our day-to-day activities will usually engender the same in others. Yet today, more than ever before, our entire lives seem to run on a time clock, where all the best intentions sometimes take a back seat to the practicalities of life.

But as the great leaders whose lives were framed by "...widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures," reverence for life and respect for the animals with whom we share our existence need not be yet another task on the list of things to do, but an overriding belief that guides our actions, tempers our decisions, and reminds us of what is truly important. Meaningful life within us is simply not possible without respect for life around us.

Abraham Lincoln, for all his remarkable contributions to our country, also is simply the man who rescued three young cats that he found half frozen in General Grant's camp during the Civil War. It was not his life's work to care for the animals; his actions were merely a work within the life of a great man who understood the interdependence of all things.

As we enter a new year, a new century, and a new millennium, we have reason to be optimistic. We have made great gains in our protection of animals over the past 50 years, in both awareness and policy. We have brought back species from near extinction. And we can take heart in the tenacity of the human spirit, the resilience of nature, and the commitment of so many people who truly care.

Let us today resolve to carry with us a deep and abiding respect for all living creatures, into the new millennium and beyond.

A native of the Whitman County town of St. John, Washington, Mike Lowry served 10 years in the US House or Representatives. Between 1993-1997, Lowry served as Washington's 20th governor. He is also co-founder of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition.

During his time in public office, Mike Lowry became known as an outspoken advocate for children and the less fortunate. Currently, he heads two non-profit organizations: Enterprise Washington is working to create jobs for people around the state who have been left out of our recent economic boom, while the Fairness Project will help shine the light of information on those who have been left in the shadows by government and society.

Lowry and his wife Mary have one daughter, Diane. They live in Renton.

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