Joaquin Phoenix talks about compassion for all at the 2020 Academy Awards


I enjoyed watching the Oscars last night. And like a lot of other folks, I deeply appreciated Joaquin Phoenix’s stirring acceptance speech. If you missed it, here it is.

Naturally, I was moved by his obviously deep concern for animals. But beyond that, I think what he had to say was so important when he reminded us that caring for one cause doesn’t make us less compassionate about another cause. On the contrary, opening up our hearts to animals is more likely to lead to caring across the board than to make us more callous toward animals who walk on two legs instead of four.

The fact that we love animals does not mean that we hate humans. And if it does, then we’re coming at it from the wrong place. Because if love is what drives you, it’s not going to lead you to hate.

Of course, any of us may get angry when fighting for (in our case) an end to the killing of dogs and cats in animal shelters across the country. Why hasn’t this person spayed his pet? Why didn’t that group or organization embrace no-kill policies years ago? Why are so many people still buying pets from pet stores? It’s understandable to have days when we feel like we’d rather not talk to anyone unless they’re a dog.

But as Joaquin pointed out, we humans are at our best when we support each other instead of cancelling each other out for past mistakes. We’re not at our best when we expend energy condemning others or issuing purity-of-belief tests. We accomplish so much more when we help one another, give each other lots of chances and bring one another into the fold, so that we can all help make the world a better place.

Ultimately, whether we’re saving homeless pets or helping homeless veterans, or doing anything else that demonstrates compassion, we’re all fighting on the same side. The side of more kindness. When kindness is king, every cause is really just one.


Julie Castle


Best Friends Animal Society