Life is Short, Make Your Time Count

Julie Castle at the No More Homeless Pets Conference, 2010, closing speechSeveral weeks ago, at Best Friends’ No More Homeless Pets Conference, I spoke about the impact of one’s life and the time that we’ve been given…and our choices about how to best spend that time.

Over the course of the last year, my life has taken a dramatic, threatening turn.

I’ve had plenty of occasions for reflection. The simple fact that I’ve got one shot at this thing called life was delivered to me hard and fast, but it was easy for me to split that delivery into two categories:  I can spend it focused on tearing other people down and stewing in a pile of negativity, or I can spend it on raising the world up.  It was time for me to pull a big dumpster up to my life and empty everything into it that didn’t matter and everything that was a source of negativity and hatred.

Translating this message into our work for the animals…life is too short to waste on negativity and the kind of infighting that has too often characterized our movement.  We must set aside discord and conflict within the animal welfare movement.   It only does a disservice to our greater cause and keeps us marginalized in the mainstream public agenda.  This means leaving behind the bash and trash language that generates plenty of heat but not much light.

There is another slice to this, which is, of course, Best Friends’ belief that kindness is the most powerful and transformative arrow in our quiver. Kindness is and always has been our centerline.  We are under no illusions that there were and still are people in animal welfare, animal rights and animal shelters who could care less about saving lives, but anger and negativity only creates entrenched opposition.   There are many more clever ways to create change than a full frontal, negative public assault.  Make no mistake, kindness is not weakness or compromise, it is powerful and transformative while negativity is an addictive black hole of wasted energy.

As our movement grows and new advocates  join in the cause, it’s our duty to reiterate the message of kindness. The easiest and most normal response to the injustice and pain that animals suffer everyday is anger, aggression and in-your-face messages about dead animals. What is missing from that calculation is the understanding that for years, prior to the success demonstrated by the Best Friends' message and approach of kindness, activists and organizations routinely featured barrels of dead animals in their public appeals and railed against the entrenched power of the establishment. It went nowhere. The primary effect was to turn off the public and push our movement to fringes,

If we are to effect real change, we need to mainstream our message and the cause of No More Homeless Pets. To do that, we must understand the very simple lesson that I’ve learned over the past year. It takes strength to be gentle and kind to each other…life is short, make it count. (Click on the images below to watch Part One and Part Two of the closing speech.)

Save the date! 1,100 participants from 50 states and 9 countries packed the house in Las Vegas for an unforgettable time at this year’s No More Homeless Pets Conference. Join Best Friends Animal Society next October 21-23 in Las Vegas at the Rio Hotel for the most relevant, groundbreaking and informative conference anywhere on the issues that matter most to help you bring about a time of No More Homeless Pets in your community. Spend three action packed days with experts and like minded people that have achieved No More Homeless Pets...learning about the latest innovative ideas and proven practices to help save animals in your community. You’ll come away from the conference re-energized and inspired to make No More Homeless Pets’ a reality in our lifetime!


Julie Castle with Sunny the dog
Julie Castle
Best Friends Animal Society