“What is religion? Compassion for all things, which have life.” — Hindu Hitopadesha (Sanskrit collection of fables)
“Animals can communicate quite well.And they do.And generally speaking, they are ignored.” — Alice Walker, African American author
IN TODAY’S SESSION… We learned about the third Unitarian Universalist Source, in children’s language “the ethical and spiritual wisdom of the world’s religions.” We learned what Hinduism teaches us about reverence for life and living without harming animals and heard a Hindu story about the god, Ganesha, whose mother takes the form of a cat without his knowledge. Ganesha chases and torments this cat without thinking, only to learn that he has tormented his mother. We learned about ways animals communicate without words. We practiced interacting kindly with some live animal visitors.
EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Talk about… animals your family has contact with and how they communicate. Share stories of your own experiences with animals. Encourage your child to be a scientific observer, watching animals and noting their behaviors in various situations and recording their observations with pictures, in writing, or by dictating them to you. Of course, be clear that your child should not create harmful situations in order to study the result!
EXTEND THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Try…
Family Adventure. Seek out opportunities to interact with and observe many different creatures, preferably uncaged creatures in natural settings. Visit a 4-H show or a farm to observe domesticated animals. Have you considered serving as a foster family for homeless cats or dogs? Visit an animal shelter or wildlife rehabilitation center. If you go to a zoo, investigate how the animals came to live in captivity and ways the zoo works to preserve and protect wildlife. Whenever you interact with animals, try to observe their behaviors or speak with animal educators to learn how they communicate.
Family Discovery. Read these children’s books based on true stories to learn more about animals and their capabilities:
The Chimpanzees I Love: Saving Their World and Ours by Jane Goodall
Koko’s Kitten by Dr. Francine Patterson
Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship by Isabella Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff, Paula Kahumbu, and Peter Greste
What Does the Crow Know? The Mysteries of Animal Intelligence by Margery Facklam
A Family Ritual. As a family, create a blessing or prayer for animals. List your hopes and wishes for the animals of your acquaintance, as well as the animals of the world. A good way to start a blessing is the word: “May … ,” followed by a list of your hopes and wishes. End the blessing with “Amen” or “May It Ever Be So.” Write the blessing and use it repeatedly at bedtime or at some other time, or you might prefer to create new blessings every day.