We are all connected

There’s no separation between self and other, and everything is interconnected.
Once you are aware of that you are no longer caught in the idea that you are a separate entity.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

Here at The Kerulos Center for Nonviolence, we believe in equality for all. By supporting grassroots social justice organizations, we seek to promote the understanding that we are interconnected and dependent on the Earth we share.

Our goals include practicing nonviolence through finding common ground, building relationships, and engaging in joint problem solving, while holding the space to disagree. Join us by accepting our fellow travelers, both human and nonhuman, with all our differences, imperfections, and failings, and also our incredible capacity to empathize, create, and heal together.

My Journey Into Social Activism

Kiersten Cluster, Kerulos Board member and co-founder of Elephant Guardians of Los Angeles

Years ago, when I went to see Blackfish, I knew it was a documentary about Orcas and Sea World, but I could not foresee the impact this film would have on my life. I watched as a baby Orca was brutally ripped from her mother and her ocean home, and then as the mother Orca, screaming in anguish, followed the ship stealing her infant until she finally gave up in physical and spiritual defeat. In that moment, I knew in my soul that we are the same. The mother Orca and I feel love for our children and her grief mirrored by deepest fears. I left that theater forever changed.

Soon thereafter and completely by chance, I started reading about Elephants. I became fascinated by the incredible capabilities and wisdom of Elephants, which Dr. Gay Bradshaw describes as their “extraordinary sensitivity, intelligence, empathetic and ethical qualities, and nurturing ways”. I decided to check on the Elephants living in my own city, housed in the Los Angeles Zoo. I soon met Billy the Asian Elephant, a resident of the zoo for almost three decades, and learned his story. Much like the baby Orca, Billy was torn from his mother and homeland and sold into a life time of captivity, isolation, and suffering. His trauma, both past and present, is outwardly expressed, and cuts deeper into his psyche, with every stereotypical sway of his body. Fellow public-school teacher, Marcy Winograd, and I formed Elephant Guardians of Angeles to speak out for Billy and seek his release from the zoo to sanctuary.

Free Billy Rally at the Los Angeles Zoo,
December 17, 2017

Through my work at The Kerulos Center for Nonviolence, I have discovered there is hope for individuals like Billy. Science is recognizing that trauma, whether it is caused by early disruption of the attachment process, or traumatic experience later in life (or both as in Billy’s case), can be healed through restoring safety, peace, physical health, and loving relationships. For Billy, the healing process must start with the relationships between the humans responsible for his wellness, from the proponents of the captive industry, to Billy’s daily caretakers, to the Animal Rights activists protesting outside the zoo gates, to the sanctuary founders offering him a new life. Together, we can heal the suffering of this individual and make at least a gesture of amends for the wrongs of his past, for which we are collectively responsible.

Watch Ray Ryan and Kiersten Cluster of The Kerulos Center for Nonviolence on the Direct Action Panel at the International Free the Zoo Elephants Conference in Portland, Oregon, April 27-28, 2018