My heart sank, really hit the floor, when I saw an image of a man “smoking” a shark. He had taken a small shark and converted it into a bong. I don’t know if the shark was dead before he did this. Apparently it sparked well-deserved outrage. I wonder if he would have done it if someone didn’t get a picture of it.

I remember several years ago a friend posted a horrific image of a man trying to get a puppy to drink vodka. What would possess him to take an innocent puppy and think it would be funny to get it drunk, to poison it in that way? I have witnessed drunk men — it is usually men, sorry — who get so drunk that they do the most ridiculous things. Putting an egg in the microwave to watch it explode is one thing. To abuse, violate, or humiliate another living thing suggests something deeper and darker.

Perhaps some people might seemingly live the facade of a normal life when they are sober or drug-free. They cover this darkness quite well, but it lingers down deep, ready to release when the drug welcomes it or when it is put under pressure.

Or perhaps we lack control over our own life, so we seek to control others. If we suffered someone else’s abuse at some point, we feel the need to inflict that same suffering on someone else. It’s so easy to pick on the little guy. We want to have power over others because we lack the power within.

No compassion. Compassion is weak. This is the mindset of those who hold their darkness and vulnerability deep within, afraid what people will think if they treat all with kindness. Someone might take advantage of them. Someone might try to control them. Show you’re strong on the outside so they don’t know you’re weak on the inside.

I consider myself to be pro-life. Yes, I do eat meat, but it tears me up that an animal has to suffer so I can sustain myself. On the other hand, when you watch a lion attack a zebra, you know it’s not out of hate, it’s out of needing food. And I do believe there is a humane way to harvest meat.

One of my students gave a speech about shark fin soup. She said that they strip the shark of its fins then put it back in the water, defenseless. It’s an expensive food, considered a delicacy. What an awful cost.

Foie gras — I can’t even imagine why someone would want to consume that after knowing what pain the animal had gone through. Or even veal.

And then I hear about people who are so concerned about unborn children. To be compassionate about a child of God in the womb is understandable, but then we treat others without that same compassion. We think it’s ok to let someone die for their crimes. We think it’s ok to let people — children even — to go hungry while we praise an administration for a tax cut. We have no problem caging people who come to our country seeking asylum.

This is not pro-life. This is picking and choosing which lives are precious. Compassion doesn’t work that way. Compassion is blind. It knows no color, no religion, no sex, no ethnicity. It respects all life, even that spider who decided to inhabit your bathroom. Even that dog who looks at you with innocence as you do another shot of vodka. And yes, even that shark you caught while looking for a bong.

Former TV person, current college professor and media researcher. Ironman triathlete, meditation teacher and yoga instructor.

Former TV person, current college professor and media researcher. Ironman triathlete, meditation teacher and yoga instructor.