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The mouse, in its natural environment, is perfect in the grand scheme of things. An essential part of the food chain and the overall biome, the mouse has its rightful role in the world. Treatment of mice depends on time and place. Kindness to mice has been a topic of controversy with regard to the treatment of lab mice for scientific and industrial research, for instance.
The lowly mouse may be insignificant. But the purpose of the Baha’i teachings is to endow everything with significance, to render the ordinary extraordinary, to ennoble ourselves and thereby enhance the quality of our social and natural environments.
Kindness to animals is enjoined by Baha’u’llah in the “Tablet of the True Seeker” as a pre-condition to our capacity to discover truth. Let’s meditate on the truths that kindness to animals reveals:
It’s said that “the eyes are the mirror of the soul.” Look into the eyes of the next animal you encounter (if it’s a close encounter). Although that animal has no soul, it has the “selfsame feelings” as you and I:
O ye beloved of the Lord! … Briefly, it is not only their fellow human beings that the beloved of God must treat with mercy and compassion, rather must they show forth the utmost loving-kindness to every living creature. For in all physical respects, and where the animal spirit is concerned, the selfsame feelings are shared by animal and man. … Train your children from their earliest days to be infinitely tender and loving to animals. If an animal be sick, let the children try to heal it, if it be hungry, let them feed it, if thirsty, let them quench its thirst, if weary, let them see that it rests.
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, such as bloodthirsty wolves, such as poisonous snakes, and similar pernicious creatures, the reason being that kindness to these is an injustice to human beings and to other animals as well. … But to blessed animals the utmost kindness must be shown, the more the better. Tenderness and loving-kindness are basic principles of God’s heavenly Kingdom. Ye should most carefully bear this matter in mind. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections From the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, pp. 158 – 160.
Animals’ eyes are the mirrors of our souls. When we behold ourselves in the mirrors of animals’ eyes, let’s hope that our kindness to animals reflects kindly on the truth of who we are.
Read the previous article in the series: Awakening Empathy for Every Living Thing
©2013 by Christopher Buck.