A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 204: Talking Animals

E and Bunsen

Photo by Elias Kok

“Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That’s the problem.” – A.A. Milne

I live in an animal-loving household. We have given love and care to dogs, cats, rats, mice, bunnies, hamsters, guinea pigs, a cockatiel and a canary called Atticus Finch. We have rescued squirrel babies and cared for injured birds. My home is alive with much more than human activity and because of that I truly believe the people who live here have a tremendous capacity for compassion.

Just yesterday we had a tragedy in our animal kingdom as my son’s beloved rat, Bunsen, died. I did not realize until I got to know Bunsen just how smart and loving rats truly can be. She was a sweetheart who was thoroughly in love with my son. We all mourned with him as she meant so much to him but also to all of us.

For those who have never given love to an animal, or allowed an animal to love them, these sentiments may sound ridiculous. But I have come to realize over the years that the truly ridiculous thing is a human being without the capacity to hold an animal close to their heart. Clearly, we were created for that connection. Clearly, there is more to the purpose of animal life on this planet than to serve our selfish needs.  Our ability to feel and give compassion is directly related to our openness to animals. Of this I am absolutely certain.

But don’t just take my word for it. Normally on Sundays in this blog I have published God Quotes. Today, instead, are quotes about animals and human kind, together from the beginning of the “In the beginning” of the Bible. In Scripture it seems we are inseparable. We should all take note of that and realize that perhaps God is attempting to speak to us all through animals. Maybe we would listen better if we accepted that truth.

“Animals are not property or “things” but rather living organisms, subjects of a life, who are worthy of our compassion, respect, friendship, and support.” – Marc Bekoff, Minding Animals

“If all the beasts were gone, men would die from a great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beasts also happens to the man. All things are connected.” – Chief Seattle, Suwamish Tribe, in a letter to President Franklin Pierce

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” – Anatole France

“Animals are God’s creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory. Thus men owe them kindness.” – Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church

“Animals are more than ever a test of our character, of mankind’s capacity for empathy and for decent, honorable conduct and faithful stewardship. We are called to treat them with kindness, not because they have rights or power or some claim to equality, but in a sense because they don’t; because they all stand unequal and powerless before us. Animals are so easily overlooked, their interests so easily brushed aside. Whenever we humans enter their world, from our farms to the local animal shelter to the African savanna, we enter as lords of the earth bearing strange powers of terror and mercy alike.” – Matthew Scully, Dominion

“Only animals were not expelled from Paradise.” – Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

“Animals are such agreeable friends — they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.” – George Eliot. Mr. Gilfil’s Love Story

“I have been studying the traits and dispositions of the “lower animals” (so called) and contrasting them with the traits and dispositions of man. I find the result humiliating to me.” – Mark Twain, Letters from the Earth

“God gave unto the Animals
A wisdom past our power to see:
Each knows innately how to live,
Which we must learn laboriously.” – Margaret Atwood, The Year of the Flood

“An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.” – Martin Buber, I and Thou

“If a man aspires towards a righteous life, his first act of abstinence is from injury to animals.” – Leo Tolstoy, The First Step

“I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contained. I stand and look at them long and long.” – Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass


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