The most beautiful word ever written in any country, in any language, at any time in human history came from India. From the Upanishads 5,000 years ago. That word is Ahimsa, meaning non-violence towards any living being.
Why does this Sanskrit word dominate my every breath?
I heard the screams of my dying father as his body was ravaged by the cancer that killed him. And I realise I have heard these screams before in the slaughterhouses, on the cattle ships to the Middle East and the dying mother whale as a harpoon explodes in her brain as she calls out to her calf. Their cries are the cries of my father. I discovered that screams are identical in any species. When we suffer, we suffer as equals.
And in their capacity to suffer, a dog is a pig is a bear is a boy.
Henceforth, I am no longer just an Australian, male, vegan. I am an Ahimsan. We may be Indian, Australian, American, English, or Palestinian. We may be Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh or Jain (or no religion at all). But if we are to live an authentic life we must share common ground without sacrificing our other beliefs. That meeting place is Ahimsa.
My goal is to make Ahimsa a truly global phenomenon, because it describes our character enlightened, elegant and educated. Socrates was right an unexamined life is not worth living. We do not find our character on Wall Street it lives on the Road to Damascus.
Imagine the day when we can say in the UN: India is the Ahimsan country where bloodshed is banned. India is the only country in the world where animal rights are enshrined in the Constitution? Animal Rights are now the greatest social issue since the abolition of slavery. India is the canary in the mineshaft. If Ahimsa dies in India, its birthplace, the world is profoundly lost. The game is over. Sadly, India has blindly followed the West in her hideous tastes for the flesh of murdered animals. Isnt it ironic - it was Gandhi who said, "A nation is judged by the way she treats her animals."
So I plead with you. India must not become a photocopied clone of the West. She must protect her civilised values. The moral high ground is vacant. India can change the world. But she must speak out and act courageously.
There are only 13 million Jews in the world. But they play a vibrant role in world affairs. Tibets population is only three million. But who hasnt heard of the plight of the Tibetans under the boot of Beijing?
But there are over 600 million vegetarians in the world, most of them Indian. That is bigger than the US, England, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Canada, Australia combined! If we were one nation we would be bigger than the 27 countries in the European Union!
Despite this massive footprint, we are still drowned out by the raucous huntin, shootin, killin bombin cretins who believe that violence is the answer when it shouldnt even be a question. Anthropologist Margaret Mead once said, "Never doubt that a few committed people can change the world. It is the only thing that ever has."
The writer is an Australian
philanthropist, vegan and the founder of the Winsome Constance Kindness Trust