We need more sympathy in all of our relations in every-day life, individual and national, and any methods of punishment that have in them the elements of resentment and revenge, in distinction from being restraining, educational, and uplifting arc thoroughly anti-Christian, to say nothing of their being unwise, inexpedient, and expensive. Who shall accuse and who shall condemn?
Certainly no wise man or woman; and certainly the unfortunate ones among us should not be in the hands of those who are the unwise. The time was, not so very long ago, when the insane were treated much as our criminals are treated to-day, treated as if they were to blame. A wiser spirit, however, prevails in regard to this unfortunate class among us, and insanity is now looked upon as a form of mental disease, not as a willful perversion of one’s natural self.
The wiser among us, who have given time and attention to the study of the criminal classes and the best methods of aiding them, are recognizing that there is such a thing as moral disease, just as we have come into the realization of the fact that there is such a thing as mental disease, and when those whom we call criminals are treated in accordance with these facts, then we shall begin to witness a great change for the better in our present methods.
Sympathy must be brought about so far as our relations with one another and so far as our relations with the animal world are concerned. Every living creature must be looked upon, respected, and treated as a living creature and not as a mere thing, not as something that is merely to serve our own purposes, with no right of any claims upon us in return.
Do you know the story of ” The Caged Thrush ” ? A stanza comes to my mind :
” Alas for the bird who was born to sing ! They have made him a cage ; they have
clipped his wing ; They have shut him up in a dingy street, And they praise his singing and call it sweet; But his heart and his song are saddened and filled With the woods and the nest he never will build, And the wild young dawn coming into the tree, And the mate that never his mate will be ; And day by day, when his notes are heard, They freshen the street, but—alas for the bird!”
The Golden Rule must be applied in our relations with the animal world just as it must be applied in our relations with our fellow-men, and no one can be a Christian man or woman, or even truly deserve the name of man or woman, until this finds embodiment in his or her life. Even worms are our helpers, and it would be absolutely impossible, so far as the right conditions in the ground are concerned, to get along without them.
We are their debtors to a vast extent, and were it not for the birds, practically all vegetable and plant life would in time, as we have found, be destroyed, and we would be helpless even so far as our very existence is concerned.
When we study the habits of animals in a truly sympathetic way and become thoroughly acquainted with them and with the work that each one is performing, we shall see that each one has its place in the economy of God’s world, that each has its part to play,
and that even so far as the animal world is concerned we are all related and inter-related. If we destroy or permit to be destroyed that marvelous balance which the Divine Power has instituted in the Universe, we do it at our own peril.
Instead, then, of being the enemies of the animal world, instead of being its persecutors and its destroyers, we should be its friends and helpers.
Homes for Animals
Much among us is done for man, little as yet for the animal. There are among us almost innumerable hospitals and homes for men and women, but there is very little of this nature as yet for the animals. As yet, there is a Home or a Rescue League for animals only here and there.
We need them more abundantly. We need Homes and Rescue Leagues and Clinics and Hospitals for them as we need them for ourselves; and where there is one Animal Home to-day, there will be, I am sure, scores, or even hundreds, in time to come.
In far-off Bombay is probably the largest and most elaborate hospital for animals in the world. It has both its in-patients and its out-patients, and it ministers to animals of all kinds as carefully as human beings are administered to in the hospitals of the West.
Over 2000 animals are taken into the hospital each year, and well on to 1000 are treated as out-patients. In all there are some forty buildings, large and small, connected with the hospital, and the architectural structure and the appointments of some of them are indeed superior to those of many of our regular hospitals.
This splendid hospital for animals was founded by a native Indian, a Parsee merchant, Sir Dinshaw Manockjee Petit. It is called Bai Sakarbaa Dinshaw Petit Hospital for Animals, and receives its support from large numbers of citizens of Bombay who are interested in its beneficent work.
Not only domestic animals of every kind are treated and cared for in it, but the animals of the jungle and the wild birds which are found wounded or suffering from any cause, are taken to it and nursed back to health and then set free again.
The hospital is the pride of Bombay, and the Hindus are very liberal in their contributions to it.
When endowing the laboratory Sir Dinshaw made the express stipulation that no vivisection should be practiced in it,
” for the reason that the same would wound the feelings of Hindus, from whom material support is obtained for the hospital, and if they come to know of it they will at once discontinue their support, and the hospital will thereby suffer in this respect.”
This is the frank and child-like reason given by Sir Dinshaw in one of the sections of the document by which he created tlie trust for the laboratory.
In addition to this splendid Hospital for Animals, there is in Bombay an influential Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
There is also the Pinjrapole, a place where worn-out or diseased animals are sent to be cared for until they are restored to health or until they die.
Near Calcutta there is also a similar institution, established some thirteen years ago by a society of influential Hindus. It is near the Sodepur Station, some ten miles from the city, and is under the control of a manager with a staff” of some eighty helpers and experienced veterinary surgeons.
In many cities in India institutions similar to those above described are to be found. Says a writer in the London Telegraph in describing this home for animals in Calcutta :
” It is true that the mysterious lower world of animal life is regarded in India with more reverence and kindliness than among Christian peoples. The one great fact of abstinence from flesh food produces an extraordinary effect among Hindoo communities.
A newly-arrived European walking in Baroda, or Nassick, or any such Brahmanic capital, would mark with wonder how the lower creatures have understood and acted upon this tacit compact of peace.
In the densest portions of the towns the monkeys sit and chatter on the roof ridges, the striped squirrels race up and down the shop poles, the green parrots fly screaming about the streets, the doves perch and coo and nest everywhere, the flying foxes hang over the most frequented wells and tanks, the mongoose scurries in and out of the garden gates, the kites and crows frequent the market-places, jungle doves and birds of all sorts forage boldly for food, and at night even the jackals steal impudently down into the suburbs.
There is a great fixed peace between man and his inferiors in the scale of creation, and the effect of this, to any lover of nature, is certainly charming.”
Here let me quote a few sentences from a Hindu writer and teacher, personally known to and honoured by many in America and in England:
“When Hindu boys and girls go to school and read their first lessons, they learn the highest humanitarian principles, and as they grow older they are kind toward all living creatures. They are taught: ‘ Be kind to lower animals. Do not kill them for your food,
because the natural food of man is not an animal.’ I learned in the first book of Sanskrit: ‘When enough of nourishment can easily be obtained from that which grows spontaneously on the earth, who will commit such a great sin as to kill animals for filling his stomach and deriving a little pleasure of taste?’
” Each one of these animals possesses a soul, has individuality and the sense of ‘ I,’ can feel pleasure and pain, has fear of death and struggles to live.
The germ of life in each one of these will gradually pass through the various stages of evolution, and ultimately appear in a human form. Therefore, the religion, philosophy, and Scriptures of the Hindus teach that as life is dear to us, so is it dear to the lower animals ; as we do not wish to be killed, so they too shrink from death. ‘
Do not kill any animal for pleasure, see harmony in nature, and lend a helping hand to all living creatures,’
say the Hindu Scriptures.
” Whenever we kill any animal for our food or pleasure we are selfish. It is on account of extreme selfishness that we do not recognize the rights of other animals, and that we try to nourish, nay, even to amuse ourselves, by killing innocent creatures or by injuring them, or by depriving them of their rights. This kind of selfishness is the mother of all evil thoughts and wicked deeds.
That which makes us selfish and helps us to cling to our lower self is degrading and wicked ; that which leads us towards unselfishness is elevating and virtuous. That which prevents us from realizing the oneness of Spirit is wrong; that which opens our spiritual eyes and helps us to see that Divinity is expressing itself through the forms of lower animals, and makes us love them as we love our own Self, is godly and divine.”
In the light of all the foregoing facts we can see that we have much to learn in our relations with the animal world from the Hindu people.
They have grasped far more fully than we the great fact of the universe— namely, the essential unity, the essential oneness of Life.
When we have fully grasped this great fact, and when we live fully in accordance with it, then our civilization will become a symmetrical civilization,
it will become all-round and complete, and not the one-sided and at times questionable civilization it is at present. It will then be a blessing to all nations, to all the peoples of the earth, and not as it is so often to day in some respects, a veritable curse and cause of degradation to them, for it will revolutionize in many respects our relations and our dealings with them.
It will also serve to make perpetual that which, if we are not careful, may be merely transitory, just as it has proved in the cases of many apparently strong and powerful nations before us.
Let us follow the injunction of one of the speakers at a meeting of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in a city of what some term a heathen country, when, in urging an increase of the Society’s membership to at least 50,000, he called upon the people to ” write mercy in the woods where the wild deer runs, and in the air where our birds fly, and all along the paths where our children and our youths pass to and fro.”
Our Humane Education Societies, our societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, as well as our few clinics and hospitals and homes for animals, are receiving support from the best types of men and women,
but they need a still greater and a far more universal support than they are at present receiving. Interest along this line is growing, however, and I think the time is rapidly coming when men and women of means, in making be-
quests for the founding or the maintaining of institutions, will think of making them for the animal world as readily as they now think of making them for the human world.
And still more, the wiser, the kindlier, and the more far-seeing among us, will give liberally to the support of every institution, every movement that has for its work humane, heart – training, so that there will be less need for last resorts, so that in coming time prevention will take the place of distress and suffering. It is simply a stirring of thought that is needed.
Practically all cases of cruelty and ill-usage, and all careless treatment, arise through thoughtlessness, or have at least their beginnings in thoughtlessness.
We must learn to sympathize with the animals about us. We must realize that they love life just as we love it, that they suffer just as we suffer, that they are hurt by harshness and threats as we are hurt by them, that they are influenced by our thoughts as we are influenced by the thoughts of one another,
that they love kindly treatment and that they appreciate it as we do ourselves, that they love and form attachments just as we do.
Every Living Creature by Ralph W. Trine Published 1899