A video came across my Facebook feed recently that got me thinking. The video is from Mindfulness Ireland. Have a watch, as it will likely touch your heart as it did mine. You’re probably wondering why it moved me, and why it got me thinking. Let me (#blogger #blog #somseason #YA #authors) explain.
Growing up, I was taught that humans were the pinnacle of creation, and that all other creatures—plants and animals—are inferior to humans. The Christian church I was raised in taught that only humans have a soul or spirit that goes to “heaven.” I even had a conversation with a priest about this topic once. The Christian church has traditionally seen humans as superior to animals based on Genesis 1:26 of the Christian Scriptures, which says:
Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’
Most Biblical intellectuals interpret this scripture text to mean that animals do not have an eternal soul in the same sense as humans do. The website, Catholic Answers says:
The soul is the principle of life. Since animals and plants are living things, they have souls, but not in the sense in which human beings have souls. Our souls are rational–theirs aren’t…Animals and plants can’t do anything which transcends the limitations of matter. Although some animals seem clever, they don’t actually possess conceptional intelligence. They can’t, for instance, conceive of the abstract notion of justice.
To summarize, plant and animal ‘souls’ don’t live on after death. Science conventionally says the same as explained by Dr Arthur Saniotis from the University’s School of Medical Sciences:
“For millennia, all kinds of authorities – from religion to eminent scholars – have been repeating the same idea ad nauseam, that humans are exceptional by virtue that they are the smartest in the animal kingdom…The belief of human cognitive superiority became entrenched in human philosophy and sciences. Even Aristotle, probably the most influential of all thinkers, argued that humans were superior to other animals due to our exclusive ability to reason.” (Source: Science X).
GospelWay.com has an entire essay, Superiority of Humans to Animals in God’s Plan, that argues that God values humans the most because animals have no spirit, no moral responsibility, no eternal destiny, and are not held accountable for right and wrong.
I have always respected the Indigenous or First Nation’s world view. Speaking generally, Indigenous people all over the world have a deep respect for the land, the plants and the animals. Animals played a very important role in their lives, providing them with food and clothing, taught them lessons, and served as messengers and spirit guides. In Honouring Earth, on the Assembly of First Nations website, it says:
Mother Earth…bestows us with materials for our homes, clothes and tools…If we listen from the place of connection to the Spirit That Lives in All Things, Mother Earth teaches what we need to know to take care of her and all her children…First Nations peoples’ have a special relationship with the earth and all living things in it. This relationship is based on a profound spiritual connection to Mother Earth that guided indigenous peoples to practice reverence, humility and reciprocity…Everything is taken and used with the understanding that we take only what we need, and we must use great care and be aware of how we take and how much of it so that future generations will not be put in peril.
Indigenous spirituality highlights a “connection to the Spirit That Lives in All Things.” On the Working Effectively with Indigenous Peoples Blog, it says:
Many Indigenous Peoples believe that “the Animal People have spirits and enter the human world to give their bodies to supply men with food, fur and other materials. After their flesh is used the animals return home, put on new flesh and re-enter the human world whenever they choose.”
Many Indigenous people believe animals have souls or spirits which live on after death since those animals “put on new flesh and re-enter the human world whenever they choose.” Even science is re-evaluating what it believes about animal kingdom. Many researchers say animals have feelings and emotions, as in the articles; What Kind of Emotions Do Animals Feel? and Do Animals Have Feelings? Examining Empathy In Animals. In the first article it says:
Instead of considering ourselves [humans] so refined and rational, it’s time for us to squarely face the degree to which we–like other animals–are driven by emotions.
Animals do have emotions, and any pet owner will tell you that. Those videos showing animal affection touch the heart. The video, Unbelievable Friendship! People and Wild Animals, show convincing evidence of this: Have a watch:
Science is even admitting that animals are intelligent as the articles, Animal Intelligence and Everything Worth Knowing About … Animal Intelligence report. This video certainly shows the intelligence of the family Corvidae of birds, otherwise known as crows and ravens. Here is the video.
I’ve personally experienced the intelligence of ravens. A number of years ago, while on a hiking trip in the Canadian Rockies, I watched two ravens hover around a table where two hikers were about to eat their boiled eggs for breakfast. Before the hikers got to eat them, they got up and left their table. Two ravens swooped down and grabbed their eggs. This was planned, as ravens and crows are strategic and plan their moves before they act. (see Crow Facts).
By now, you are probably wondering why I am babbling on about humans and animals. Here’s why. All my life, I have watched humanity claim to be the most intelligent animal, yet continually make choices that put humanity and our planet in danger. The article, 50 Reasons Why the Human Race Is Too Stupid To Survive, lists 50 stupid things human have done, and I believe there are way more than fifty.
As mentioned earlier, Indigenous people have a deep respect for Mother Earth—the land, the plants and the animals. They believe animals teach them lessons, and are messengers and guides. I have always felt the Indigenous world view made more sense as opposed to the European world view. Perhaps if the European settlers had adopted an Indigenous-Centric world view instead of keeping their Eurocentric view, with its beliefs of superiority and that the natives were inferior savages, our world would be better off. Since Mother Earth guided the indigenous peoples to practice reverence, humility and reciprocity, there most certainly would be less, or even no bullying (#bullying #antibullying).
You see, I believe we have much to learn from Mother Earth, especially her animals. The One Green Planet article, 10 Important Life Lessons we can Learn From Animals, says there are ten lessons that we can learn from animals. Two lessons, according to this article, are ‘We’re All Connected’ and ‘We Must Stick Together.’ This is what Chief Seattle, who advocated accommodation with white settlers, meant when he said:
“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”
Considering the present state of our world at the moment, with all its division, power grabs, and bullying, maybe we would be wise to pay attention to the animal kingdom and Indigenous wisdom. We have nothing to lose, and much to learn. Clearly, the old ways have not worked.