Speak up to make this world a better place

By Juliana Di Leonardo

We sometimes wrestle with staying silent or speaking up in our quest for peace and sanity. Do we protect ourselves from a potential confrontation or do we stand up for what is right? When we witness harmful acts such as littering, feeding wildlife or neglecting a companion animal, it can prompt an internal dilemma that is triggered by fear. These conversations can be extremely upsetting especially when the other person is unsympathetic to what you are telling them and ultimately the individual may insist on continuing a life of harm and destruction leading you to ask “Am I really making a difference?”

At Humane Long Island, my husband and I practice nonviolence, or ahimsa, by advocating, rehabbing, and rescuing non-human animals daily. For us, the answer to whether to be silent or vocal is clear, and the answer is always “Speak up!”

Every action taken is a vote for a kinder world. Although speaking up can be uncomfortable and sometimes anxiety-producing, it is always the best strategy when trying to make the world a better place. We find that every interaction whether it feels productive or not will shake up a person’s perspective, possibly leading them towards a more compassionate life.

We often encounter people littering in parks and are quick to explain that garbage thrown from car windows or sprinkled by passers-by can negatively impact the health of native species and pollute our waterways. Most culprits will also think that old food or even fresh bread can be tossed to wildlife while an entire duck population can be taken out by mold or baby fowl can develop deformities from a diet lacking in nutrition. Sometimes individuals can be very stuck in their ways and resist the information provided to them but their young children however are usually receptive and ready to learn. In these same parks, you can see how different guardians handle their companion animals. Most times you will see happy dogs but occasionally there will be a person using cruel methods when training their dogs and sometimes they will even practice using tools that inflict pain or tug so hard on the leash that the dog goes airborne.

For this week’s Anuvrat, or small vow, I encourage you to push through fear and find the courage to become the person that makes a difference and impacts the world in a small yet positive way by starting a discussion. It can be draining and exhausting to initiate such a challenging dialogue, but at the end of the day knowledge is power and seizing the opportunity to educate others is critical to making this world a kinder and safer place for human and non-human animals alike.


Juliana Di Leonardo is the Vice President of Humane Long Island. She is a yoga and ballroom dance instructor, model, and artist. Her advocacy for animals exploited by the fashion industry was credited in the 2021 documentary “The Face of Fashion is Fear” and recognized by PETA with a Hero for Coyotes award. 

People also ask … … ….

Which is older Buddhism or Jainism?

Mahavira was born a little before the Buddha. While the Buddha was the founder of Buddhism, Mahavira is not the founder of Jainism. He is the 24th great teacher (Tirthankara) in the Jain tradition that was founded in the present era by Rishabh or Adinatha, thousands of years before Mahavira.

Image courtesy of Provided

Share this post