Teaching People Kindness and Compassion to Animals, Each Other and our Planet.
Teaching People Kindness and Compassion to Animals, Each Other and our Planet.

The Way We Love

When I was a child I loved animals so much. I could feel their joy and their pain. I knew instinctually if they were happy or not. And I was called to them when they needed help. I spent most of my spare time exploring the woods and lakes with my dog and best friend, Simon. Whether it was a tiny insect, a frog, a turtle, or a horse, I loved them unconditionally, with my whole heart. And I always saw animals as my teachers and healers. I was teased mercilessly for my love of animals. My brothers would do awful things to insects just to make me cry. The kids in school laughed at me relentlessly. And when I wanted to help an animal, my mom would tell me, “don’t be ridiculous!” Why was I ridiculed for loving?!

In Nashville this week a couple came to help us. They worked very hard, asked a lot of questions, and loved our mission. We were so grateful to have them here. I noticed that at the start of the day when he introduced himself and his wife, he seemed a little guarded. As the day unfolded we discussed so many topics while we worked, and got to know each other. When they found out that we had a Gentle Barn in California they said that they wished they could move there because Tennessee was so backward. Then they confided in me that people still stare at them and give them dirty looks because he’s darker skinned than her. And it dawned on me that it wasn’t just me, that there are other people who are hated for the way they love. I shook my head in disbelief, haven’t we evolved past that yet?!

I just learned that one of our employees was kicked out of their parent’s house at eighteen when he came out to them. His parents berated him for his “choice” and demanded that he be straight, exclaiming that to be gay was disrespectful to them. I can only imagine the shame and pain he carries around with him every day. He could have disclosed so many horrific things: that he was on drugs, he murdered someone, or that he has no empathy for others. But he is a good person and reveals that he loves someone and gets thrown out?!

Throughout history, we have made great strides to overcome adversity, but we have so much farther to go. I ache for a world that supports love and practices intolerance for hatred. That upholds acceptance for everyone and teaches kindness from the start. Where love, tolerance, acceptance, and gentleness are the core foundations of our schools, communities, churches, temples, and families. And one day it will be!

We have so many contradiction in our society: respect for fair skinned, and discrimination towards darker completions. Affection for Cats, dogs, and horses, but an appetite for cows, pigs, and chickens. Acceptance for heterosexuals, but bigotry towards same-sex couples. When will we be wise enough to realize that no matter what we seem like, we’re all the same on the inside?! It is time that we mold the future generations to be loving, uplifting and accepting of everyone. Not to love some and despise others, but to love, protect and revere EVERYONE! And until it is the norm, I’ll be right here at The Gentle Barn with arms wide open, heart all loving, and doors safe for everyone to enter, no matter who or how they love!

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