This Valentine’s Day let’s show kindness to someone different than us

By Juliana Di Leonardo 

Today, we can be grateful for the copious amount of information available at our fingertips, but as new, sophisticated technology continues to develop, the accessibility to judge, compare, and criticize our neighbor contributes more to societal disconnect rather than mutual love and respect. The need to reconnect at a more intimate level requires us to root through life using all our senses and allow those experiences to guide us to a greater understanding of how to coexist and love each other better.  

Humans often forget that we are animals too. We often remove ourselves so completely from nature that even thinking of another being may lead to ideas of exploitation or consumption only to further the existence of speciesism—the misguided belief that one species is more important than another. Luckily, we have been blessed with the capability to understand that our actions have consequences, and our impact on the world is far greater than we can imagine. We can choose to do better every day instead of thoughtlessly going through the motions and perpetuating selfish behavior. 

There is much to learn from other species when it comes to love and acceptance. Bonobos, a primate closely related to humans, are peaceful, empathetic, and loving. They eat a diet primarily made of fruit, seeds, and mushrooms and choose affection over aggression when meeting strangers. They will soothe others with an embrace and giggle when tickled. These apes truly embody the 1960s anti-war slogan “make love, not war” and liberally engage in romantic activities to bring pleasure to others in the face of conflict. 

How often do we cruise through life solely focused on our needs or keep to ourselves when an unknown person tries to convey their hardships? It is by observing other animals, unphased and unpreoccupied by technological advances that we can learn a kinder way to live and interact with the world around us. 

This Valentine’s Day and beyond, make a small vow—or Anuvrat—to do something kind for someone different than you, maybe a person who expresses themselves in a unique way or lives a lifestyle you don’t understand. Connect with your inner Bonobo: hug someone in distress, make someone laugh, eat fruit instead of meat, and when meeting a conflict choose love.

Juliana Di Leonardo is the Vice President of Long Island Orchestrating for Nature (LION). 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. 

Acharya Tulsi Ji

People Also Ask… 

Are there any Jain Temples affiliated with other ‘Dharmic’ traditions such as Hinduism? 

One of the first Hindu-Jain Temples (HJT) was built on seven acres of land near Pittsburgh, PA. The ‘Pranprathistha’ ceremony for the HJT was done in May 1984, making it one of the oldest temples in North America. It was unprecedented at the time but it does very well convey the Indian philosophy of unity in diversity.

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