Editors note: Every Friday a question is printed at the end of this column inviting a response. If you are a religious leader on Kaua‘i please send in your thoughts or suggestions for future topics. Next week’s topic is on defeat. The topic at the end of the column is for the following week.
The Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Koloa
Animals, though without an immortal soul, are innocent and should be treated with kindness and love. We must take great care to show tenderness to animals for they cannot talk or complain to better their plight. Parents should train their children from an early age to show compassion and care for animals. The exception, however, are vicious and harmful animals who cannot be allowed to harm other animals or human beings.
In a talk given in London in 1911 Abdu’l-Baha was asked what happens to an animal’s personality after death. He replied “Even the most developed dog has not the immortal soul of the man; yet the dog is perfect in its own place. You do not quarrel with a rose-tree because it cannot sing!”
He further explained the relationship of humans to animals. “Most human beings are sinners, but the beasts are innocent. Surely those without sin should receive the most kindness and love — all except animals which are harmful … the reason being that kindness to these is an injustice to human beings and to other animals as well.”
This is an excerpt from guidance given by Abdu’l-Baha on kindness to animals. “… O ye friends of God! Ye must not only have kind and merciful feelings for mankind, but ye should also exercise the utmost kindness towards every living creature. The physical sensibilities and instincts are common to animal and man. Man is, however, negligent of this reality and imagines that sensibility is peculiar to mankind, therefore he practices cruelty to the animal. In reality what difference is there in physical sensations! Sensibility is the same whether you harm man or animal: There is no difference. Nay, rather, cruelty to the animal is more painful because man has a tongue and he sighs, complains and groans when he receives an injury and complains to the government and the government protects him from cruelty; but the poor animal cannot speak, it can neither show its suffering nor is it able to appeal to the government. If it is harmed a thousand times by man it is not able to defend itself in words nor can it seek justice or retaliate. Therefore one must be very considerate towards animals and show greater kindness to them than to man. Educate the children in their infancy in such a way that they may become exceedingly kind and merciful to the animals. If an animal is sick they should endeavor to cure it; if it is hungry, they should feed it; if it is thirsty, they should satisfy its thirst; if it is tired, they should give it rest.”
Rev. Rita MeKila Herring
Universal Brotherhood Movement
The topic of animals is truly a tough one because it’s one that carries with it a heavy dichotomy. Science believes that humans are included in the animal kingdom yet many religions consider humans superior and animals “lowly.” Most are of the belief that humans are the most intelligent beings on Earth but can they be so sure? We’re the only beings that put our own in cages. When you observe animals in their natural environment, there seems to be instinctual understanding of what’s acceptable and what is not within each unique community. We, the most intelligent have lost that instinctual understanding.
We’ve developed an unhealthy approach of separateness to everything. Separateness from animals because we’re better than them in some way. Separateness from others within our own species because we’re better than them too. It all appears to be insanely out of control.
Exclusiveness as an approach to life is not working for us. We need to approach a more inclusive attitude. We need to be more accepting of our fellow human beings even if they seem to be different in one way or another. We need to be more accepting of the life force contained within each animal. Our balance is out of control and if we are to utilize our supposed supreme intelligence, we must adopt a more grateful and respectful attitude toward all animals, including ourselves.
Indigenous cultures believe that each animal carries lessons for us. Native Americans and shamans called upon animals for their “medicine” — if a warrior needed to see in the dark, he’d call on owl medicine to enhance his eyesight. The world is full of perfect teachers if we only remain open to what they have to share.
Look to other members of our animal family with a sense of responsibility and respect. Activate that claimed higher intelligence and do something about the wrongs and imbalances we’re witnessing on our precious planet.
Science of Mind practitioner
Animals are as our children.
When seen as pets, we nurture them by feeding them, loving them, teaching them habits which won’t offend and gently lead them to become self-sufficient in their own self-confident way. If we treat them poorly, they rebel. They act out, showing their teeth in uneven, unloving display.
All animals reflect through their eyes their needs, their emotions, and sometimes sensitive, even insensitive portrayals of their feelings.
Animals were born in the wild.
Given the gift of strong smell, our animals survive alone in the wild, whether finding food or being wary of danger. Claws enhance their means to climb or grab for that which they need. Whether furred or furrless, sleek or cumbersome, short or tall depends upon the territory where they’ve been born and their needs regarding food and warmth.
Whether self-sufficient in the wild or friends within a home, our animals are of a unique gender that nourishes man in so many different ways … God’s way of saying, “Thank you.”
Next week’s question:
• Will you speak to us on hope?
• Spiritual leaders are invited to e-mail responses of three to five paragraphs to firstname.lastname@example.org
• Deadline each week is
Tuesday, by 5 p.m.