What is the secret to a perfect life and happiness?


Maneka Gandhi


(Bihar Times) A footprint is the term environmentalists use to describe each person’s impact on the earth.  The more you use, the most you travel , the more you eat , the larger and heavier your foot on this earth. The idea is to make your foot so small and gentle that you pass through this life without hurting the planet. This means you eat less and eat only local vegetarian food, you want less, you buy less, you use less energy – all this can be done and you can still have a wonderful quality of life , without the guilt and pain. I see from experience that he who does not harm the earth is always protected and cherished by her no matter what life brings.

Carbon footprint means the amount of energy you use – carbon is released by all the energy you use. Energy saving is not just about putting lights on and off or using the car. It encompasses everything you do. An extra pair of shoes has used up a life, chemicals , electricity and has dirtied the river somewhere else. It is brought to the shop where it sits in airconditioned surroundings till you go and buy it. All these costs are not put into the shoe but they have cost the earth dearly. A book of pulp fiction has cut down over 100 trees which would have absorbed carbon, used chemicals in the paper mills which have gone into water , used lead in the printing – again all hidden costs. All these add to your own footprint so global warming is the sum of the carbon released into the air from all the things you use and want.

The larger your carbon footprint, the smaller your compassion footprint – because your heavy foot crushes all other species under it. For instance , if you use palm oil , the forests of Borneo are cut and all the orangutans die. If you use a lot of paper , all the forests in your own country go and the tiger dies. So whatever you use has a price to pay. A footprint is not just the size of your foot, but where you step and how frequently and how hard.

So you need to increase your compassion footprint. On one hand, examine your life and see what you can live without. The more you don’t want, the simpler and more noble your life is. And more fun because traveling light means you can get further.

The Compassion Footprint is not a measurement of how you feel but a measurement of emitted compassion as compassion has every bit as much to do with the quality of life on earth as fossil fuel emissions or ozone depletion.

Compassion is defined as deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it. It is a profound human emotion. We need to recognize that either we live with animals in a responsible manner , sharing our world with them equitably or we all die together in a blaze of murder and suicide.  If you cannot work towards bettering their conditions , then simply leave them alone.  Do not use any product in which they are legally abused, harmed, killed in the  name of education, science, entertainment, clothing, or food—self-serving excuses that boil down to “in the name of humans.”

How can you increase your compassion footprint? The answer lies in being “conscious”. Conscious of what we eat, wear or use and to go beyond and look for the source of the product. Has this product harmed another creature to benefit or give pleasure to me? Is my level of pleasure equal to the pain it has caused ? 

Every day we have the opportunity to consciously affect so many lives . Start with small acts : for instance, when you go for a bath clear the area gently of all insects.

Here is a simple quiz about your compassion footprint. Answer the questions honestly and as you go along you’ll learn it’s not hard to grow your feet !

1. After finishing your food, you leave a few morsels in the plate as “waste”. Do you throw it in the dustbin or out on the window ledge where a passing bird could feed on it?
2. Do you share any part of your household’s food with stray animals ?
3.Do you put all your edible leftovers or grass clippings into plastic bags so that no one can eat from a public garbage area or do you leave them free for dump animals
4. You see an injured animal on the street: do you merely shrug your shoulder thinking: someone else will do something “, turn your face the other way as you have troubles of your own or do you stop to help and call an animal welfare organization and tell them where the animal is?
5.When was the last time you planted a tree ?
7. Have you ever visited an animal shelter and maybe donated something even if it is old newspapers?
  8. Have you placed a bowl for birds to feed / drink from during the summer season?
  9. Have you ever written to a newspaper or a TV channel that showing abusive entertainment like bullfighting or acts that involve eating animals for winning contests is not fun at all.
  10. Have you refused to experiment on animals in your school – you can, you know, and still learn just as much.
11. Do you go to circuses or zoos ? Do you accept and enjoy what you see or look at captivity through the eyes of those on the other side of the bars and whips ?
12. Do you read the label of every day products you use especially in cosmetics to see whether they are free from animal testing?
  13. Have you ever stopped to help any animal in distress? Do you look when you walk so that you do not step on ants ?
14. Do you teach your children to be sensitive to animals and not abuse them even if the ways may seem small such as tearing off the wings of dragonflies , pinning butterflies in their scrap book or kicking a passing dog ? 
15. Do you use chemicals in your home to kill all manner of insects instead of simply preventing them from coming in ?
  Now answer the Big Question that gives you a million points on the Compassionometer – are you vegetarian ?
It is simple to make compassionate choices about what we eat and wear and how we educate students, conduct research, and entertain ourselves. The secret to a perfect life and perfect happiness : Reduce Carbon, Increase Compassion !

To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in


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