As Care2 celebrates Earth Day by expanding it to Earth Week, I couldn’t help but think of the person I most associate with environmental protection, Zoe Weil. The truly inspiring thing about Zoe is her visionary grasp of the interconnectedness of humans, animals and the environment.
Don’t you sometimes wonder how you as one individual can take responsibility for something as overwhelmingly complicated as the environment?
I had the honor and pleasure of hearing Zoe Weil speak for Earth Day in April 2009. My friends and I still talk about it because the thoughts and ideas she presented spoke to our hearts, minds and core values.
Zoe Weil is a pioneer in the field of humane education. She understands humane education has many aspects. She teaches about the interconnected issues of human rights, environmental preservation and animal protection. You can’t focus on one without affecting the others.
If I tried to explain Zoe, and her concept of humane education comprehensively, I would need to write a book. So I’ll simply try and describe her MOGO Principle, because it is a basic building block for the humane education curriculum she teaches.
MOGO is a term Zoe coined meaning Most Good. This is short for her principle Most Good, Least Harm. It is imperative to make everyday decisions by considering MOGO. Zoe identifies MOGO as having seven keys:
- Live Your Epitaph – to be remembered, you must live your ideals.
- Pursue Joy through Service - helping others helps oneself.
- Make Connections and Self-Reflect - every action has a reaction, so think before acting.
- Model Your Message and Work for Change – become what you want your reflection to be. Through your example, change will occur.
- Find and Create Community - seek fellow MOGO-minded people: there is spiritual strength in numbers.
- Take Responsibility – be aware that your choices affect many others.
- Strive for Balance – consider the needs of others and yourself when making decisions.
“It begins with being kind, respectful, and honest in our interactions, but it doesn’t end there,” writes Zoe in her book “Most Good, Least Harm: A Simple Principle for a Better World and a Meaningful Life.” “Modeling your message also entails making choices about products, clothing, transportation, recreation, food, volunteerism and work that reflect your values and are peaceful, humane, restorative and sustainable.”
The following video is a bit lengthy – 17 minutes – but well worth viewing. It is part of a lecture by Zoe on humane education, including MOGO.
I would recommend reading “Most Good, Least Harm” to anyone interested in learning the MOGO principle. It is brief — about 200 pages — well written, easy to read and understand and speaks volumes. When I told her I think of MOGO as being similar to The Golden Rule, Zoe told me, “MOGO puts legs on The Golden Rule!”
“Most Good, Least Harm” won the 2010 Nautilus silver medal award in sustainability and green values. But that’s not why you should read it. You should read it because it will open up a view to the world, your place and role in it and how to see things through a different set of eyes. It will inspire you to live a MOGO life.
In 2010, Zoe was inducted into the Animal Rights Hall of Fame for her work connecting animal issues with the environment and human rights issues. Zoe is the President and co-founder of The Institute for Humane Education and with a motto of “Learning, Living and Teaching for a Better World,” it is a wonderful place to experience. Explore the website and prepare for an uplifting and life-changing time.
Photo Credit - Flickr: EraPhernalia Vintage