I don’t actually remember this happening, as tends to be the case when something traumatic or core-shaking happens to me, but the story goes as follows.
I was in fifth or sixth grade and had just started attending a Lutheran school. One day, for some reason, the topic during a class discussion turned to animals — pets specifically. I had apparently made a comment about how I can’t wait to see the ones which have passed when I get to Heaven. These days, I hope I make it there, but that’s another post for another time. My, how the years weigh us down.
At any rate, my teacher — aghast at my thinking that pets had a special place above after passing — berated me in front of the class. It was such a severe lecture that I cried.
She told me that animals had no souls. She asked what was wrong with me. She said that animals are under man’s control, and nothing more — that they essentially exist, then don’t. Period.
This might be true — I have no idea. And, yes, I know what’s written in scripture. But you know what? How dare she. Instead of educating a child, she squashed a soul. I personally prefer to think of heaven as having indestructible balls of yarn for cats to play with, endless supplies of bones and tennis balls for dogs to enjoy, trees for birds, vast fields for horses and cows, and oceans for the sea creatures held in captivity or tortured in the name of supporting someone’s livelihood.
It pains me to see news stories of dolphins that are killed and used for shark bait — and even “killed” is too kind a word. Some are skinned while still alive, alive only because the bludgeoning wasn’t thorough enough and failed to spare them from the worst act imaginable. Media coverage of a man who was so annoyed by the cats in his area that he gathered them up, put them in a box — then in a fire — enrages me. My teacher may think that animals don’t have a special place waiting for them, but I most definitely do. They have to. They have to be given better than what we — sometimes accidentally but often knowingly — subject them to here on this planet.
Today I saw an article that included a link to donate to a German Shepherd rescue. I wasn’t going to, but its plea was well-crafted and resonated with me. “Instead of drinks or dessert this weekend, why not help save a life?”
I thought of my happy hour plans for this evening, and clicked the link. Surely I could do without a drink.
Tonight I am thankful for causes that support the animals that so many of us know and love, and — even though the coverage is maddening and makes me question humanity more often than not — I am thankful for the media spotlighting the harm that people do to these creatures. They may not have a voice, but it doesn’t make them feel pain any less than we do. For the saviors of animals and the rescuers of those who can’t ask for assistance, I am grateful.