"The value of a sentient life is not measured in it's utility to others, but in it's immense, irreplaceable value to the being whose life it is." Joanna Lucas
There is a framed poster of this writing by Henry Beston in a veterinarian's office in Conifer, Colorado, where I deliver Fedex packages.
“We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate for having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein do we err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.”
― Henry Beston, The Outermost House: A Year of Life On The Great Beach of Cape Cod
Humans on the whole pretty much completely misunderstand the animals that are in our world. I believe that they are as valuable to the Divine as we humans are, that they are expressions of the Infinite Mind in form. They are on cosmic and karmic journeys of their own, and if a soul wants to come to a dark and cruel place to work out their spiritual debts, this would be the place. Master Sha refers to the earth plane as the bitter sea, the place of red dust, as spoken of in the Tao De Ching.
Abraham Lincoln said, "I care not for any man's religion whose dog or cat is not the better for it."
I have heard that animals "think" in pictures, and that they talk to us all the time. I have had moments when I was pretty sure I didn't want to hear it, like when Hershey the dachshund is hollering "Feed me! Feed me!", but tragically I think it is mostly, "I love you, will you please love me?"
Can we pause to look through their eyes, and feel their hearts? All animals play, which points to a higher faculty. We are so unconscious of their pain, their silent agony. I saw a picture on Facebook that I wish I hadn't, it has haunted me since. It was a cow that was all alone out in a trampled mudfield, sitting with her legs broken where she had fallen from a truck, just looking and waiting for someone to come. I don't know if anyone did, but I am weeping at this moment thinking about it.
This is my prayer every morning. "Dear Divine, with all my heart and soul I ask your blessing for the heart and mind and soul of every being involved in any way in animal testing, factory farming, zoo, circus, ranching, hunting, slaughterhouse, anywhere animals are held, mistreated, harmed and killed. I am so very sorry for it. Please forgive me. Please fill those spaces with your light."
I get that it is karma, but I also know that we are helped on our journeys by serving these beloveds through prayer, through action, though intervention, through simple love. Though love is not simple. To quote the lady in The Color Purple, "Everything jes wanna be loved." Everything. Everyone. All.
The value of a sentient life is not measured in it's utility to others, but in it's immense, irreplaceable value to the being whose life it is.