- By the time they are teenagers, children in the U.S. have witnessed tens of thousands of murders and acts of violence on television.
- For too many people, young and old alike, greed and consumerism have replaced kindness and community concern as the prominent values of modern society.
- More than half of the wells in the U.S. are contaminated; forests and wetlands are being destroyed rapidly, and species are becoming extinct at record rates.
- Institutionalized animal abuse in a number of industries is not only causing profound suffering to animals, but is also contributing to a host of environmental and health problems.
- Hate groups in the U.S. are gaining members at an increasing and alarming rate, and hate crimes are on the rise.
These are just a few of the indicators that we need effective solutions for future generations, and innovative approaches to critical social and environmental problems.
Humane Education as a Solution
While many people are concerned about the issues and problems above, most groups working on social change focus their attention on a single issue, such as the environment, or animals, or children, or the disabled, etc. While this approach is effective in terms of lobbying and challenging specific problems, it fails to address the beliefs and systems which initially created the problems. In order to address these issues at their core, and challenge the belief systems which perpetuate suffering and injustice, the International Institute for Humane Education’s Center for Compassionate Living (IIHE/CCL) believes that we must focus on underlying principles, practical solutions, and the interconnection of social change issues.
IIHE/CCL’s approach is broad-based humane education which helps people of all ages to explore their deepest values and philosophies of life, while at the same time discussing the effects of daily choices, from what toothpaste to use, to what food to eat, to what kind of home to build.
- Humane education asks people to consider how we should treat everyone: friends, neighbors, children, the elderly, the disenfranchised, native peoples, forests, rivers, animals: in essence — all to whom we are connected in the web of life.
- Humane education does not confine itself to a single issue, or a few issues, but rather seeks solutions to a whole range of social ills through presentations which allow people to define their values and learn to live by them.
- Humane education attempts to challenge the discouraging and frightening trends of violence, dispassion, apathy, greed, and the inability to think critically by actively promoting compassion, critical thinking, and respect for self and others through exciting, innovative, enjoyable and transforming activities and teaching strategies.
Unfortunately, education which encourages students to question and determine their values and beliefs, which promotes compassion toward both human and nonhuman animals, and which helps young people to think critically about the information around them, is rare.