My mother thought it would make us feel better to know that animals had no souls, and thus their deaths were not to be taken seriously. But it didn’t help, and when I think of some of the animals I have known, I wonder. The only really “soulful” eyes in the world belong to the dog or cat who sits on your lap or at your feet, commiserating when you cry.
Animals give us their constant, unjaded faces, and we burden them with our bodies and civilized ordeals.
It was quite incomprehensible to me . . . why in my evening prayers I should pray for human beings only. So when my mother had prayed with me and had kissed me goodnight, I used to add silently a prayer that I had composed myself for all living creatures. It ran thus: “O Heavenly Father, protect and bless all things that have breath; guard them from all evil, and let them sleep in peace.”
The lower animals are our brethren. I include among them the lion and the tiger. We do not know how to live with these carnivorous beasts and poisonous reptiles because of our ignorance. When man learns better, he will learn to befriend even these. Today he does not even know how to befriend a man of a different religion or from a different country.
In nothing does man, with his grand notions of heaven and charity, show forth his innate, wild animalism more clearly than in his treatment of his brother beasts. From the shepherd with his lambs to the red-handed hunter, it is the same: no recognition of rights — only murder in one form or another.
It can truly be said: Men are the devils of the earth, and the animals are the tormented souls.
I ask people why they have deer heads on their walls, and they say, “Because it’s such a beautiful animal.” There you go. Well, I think my mother’s attractive, but I have photographs of her.
We call them dumb animals, and so they are, for they cannot tell us how they feel, but they do not suffer less because they have no words.
Many things that human words have upset are set at rest again by the silence of animals. Animals move through the world like a caravan of silence. A whole world, that of nature and that of animals, is filled with silence. Nature and animals seem like protuberances of silence. The silence of animals and the silence of nature would not be so great and noble if it were merely a failure of language to materialize. Silence has been entrusted to the animals and to nature as something created for its own sake.
The charm which Henry [Thoreau] uses for bird and frog and mink is patience. They will not come to him, or show him aright, until he becomes a log among logs, sitting still for hours in the same place; then they come around him and to him, and show themselves at home.
The sense of smell in the animal is what intuition is to the human spirit. It tells you of the invisible, of what cannot be detected by any other means. It tells you the things that are not there, yet are coming. You see into the blind, opaque past and round the corner of time.
Some animals, like some men, leave a trail of glory behind them. They give their spirit to the place where they have lived, and remain forever a part of the rocks and streams and the wind and sky.
The basis of all animal rights should be the Golden Rule: we should treat them as we would wish them to treat us, were any other species in our dominant position.
A prisoner lived in solitary confinement for ten years. He saw and spoke to no one, and his meals were served through an opening in the wall. One day, an ant came into his cell. The man contemplated it in fascination as it crawled around the room. He held it in the palm of his hand the better to observe it, gave it a grain or two. . . . It suddenly struck him that it had taken him ten long years of solitary confinement to open his eyes to the loveliness of an ant.