“Monkeys are a curse! They destroy our fruits, vegetables...” “Wild boars dig up and destroy everything!” – are common complaints from some farmers, religious communities, etc.
Do the animals complain, “These humans destroy all the grain, vegetables, fruits, and cut many trees”?
If they did, humans might respond, “Oh, no! We grow grains, vegetables, fruits and trees in ‘ our’ land - to sustain our life, business, furniture… We ‘ own’ our land; its produce belongs to us only.”
Because we paid some money once, have a piece of paper to prove it, do we own the land? Do the air and clouds, water, the resources under the land, etc. in ‘ our’ land, belong to us? For ever?
Does the land belong to us, or we belong to the land? We live only a few years on the Earth which is over four billion years old. Created in the image and likeness of God, the Creator entrusted to us Our Common Home (the whole Creation) to be nurtured and cared; not to be bought, ‘ owned’ and exploited at will. We have evolved a system of ‘ buying’ and keeping land/Earth for ‘ our’ exclusive use - and abuse!
Animals consume only what and when they need. And we call it destruction! We human beings often over-consume and misuse (pollute) much of what Mother Earth offers – earth, air, water, fire..., plants, animals,… That is destruction! All in Our Common Home – all created beings, are suffering the consequences of it.
Adi-vasi (Ab-original) perception of Creation
Adivasis are the original specimens of humanity. They understood and lived their belonging to Our Common Home.
The American Red Indian Chief Seattle of the 18th century put it with great simplicity. In the reply attributed to him to the then US President, who wanted to buy millions of acres of the land where his people lived, Chief Seattle said: “ How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them? Every part of the Earth is sacred to my people… ” “ This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth… Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself… All things share the same breath - the beast, the tree, the man. All things are connected like the blood which unites one's family.”
“One thing we know: our god is also your god. The earth is precious to him and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its creator,” Chief Seattle said.
Almost two hundred years later, Pope Francis, in his Encyclical, Laudato Si’ affirms the same perception of God’s Creation.
“This is the basis of our conviction that, as part of the universe, called into being by one Father, all of us are linked by unseen bonds and together form a kind of universal family, a sublime communion which fills us with a sacred, affectionate and humble respect.” (LS 89)
“Everything is related, and we human beings are united as brothers and sisters on a wonderful pilgrimage, woven together by the love God has for each of his creatures and which also unites us in fond affection with brother sun, sister moon, brother river and mother earth.” (LS 92)
“In talking with his disciples, Jesus would invite them to recognize the paternal relationship God has with all his creatures. With moving tenderness he would remind them that each one of them is important in God’s eyes: ‘Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God’ (Lk 12:6). ‘Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them’ (Mt 6:26) (LS 96)
Animals also have feelings
Anyone who has a pet dog, cat, bird, etc. knows how loving and attached they are to those who love and nurture them. They perceive the mood/feelings of their mistresses/masters, not through words, but from the eyes, body postures, gestures, smiles/grouchiness, non-verbal expressions, and voice – loving/gentle/warm or angry/loud/harsh – of the latter. As a matter of fact, our little babies also perceive the moods/feelings of their mothers/fathers, brothers/sisters, and all who show affection to them much the same way.
From my personal experience I am convinced that besides domesticated cats, dogs and birds, other animals (even the so-called wild animals) respond to affection and care from us with love and affection. St. Francis of Assisi realised and lived this relatedness of all creation, over eight centuries ago. Our Pope, who took Francis’ name, proposes such a familial relationship in OUR COMMON HOME by the disciples of Jesus
It has been verified in experiments that plants, trees, etc. also respond to affection and care we show them, and flourish better. Plants also have feelings. Indian scientist Jagadish Chandra Bose (1858-1937) did research and experiments on this with interesting discoveries. He wrote how plants grew more quickly when exposed to nice music and gentle whispers, and poorly when exposed to harsh music and loud speech. He even mentioned how plants became depressed when exposed to polluted air and darkening skies.
All created beings are dependent on each other, as in human families and communities. We live consuming the plants, animals, etc. and their produce, and they flourish with our care. The fact is that they existed and thrived much before we, human beings, emerged in the Evolutionary process. They could continue even if we disappear from the face of the earth. The Creator Lord’s dream is that we live and flourish in an interdependent Our Common Home.
No creature is superfluous
Some people consider some plants/trees useless, and some animals only harmful! Nature has eased out ‘naturally’ the creatures (Dinosaurs, etc.) when they became superfluous for the Earth with the evolution of the Universe. Whatever exists today in creation has a function for today. “St. Francis of Assisi asked that part of the friary garden always be left untouched, so that wild flowers and herbs could grow there,…”(LS 12). That we do not yet understand the function of some creatures on Earth, does not make them useless/harmful. Ignorant (or greedy) people breaking some stands of the web of life damage the whole web of creation with serious consequences to all in Our Common Home.
The call of the Creator Being to all who sincerely search, find and relate to that INFINITE BEING is to care and nurture OUR COMMON HOME with love.(Published on 10th September 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 37)