This contains some descriptions of animal abuse. If you're sensitive you may not want to read on.
I’m reading a book called, Saving Simon by Jon Katz. Simon is a donkey and Jon Katz is a writer. He writes often about dogs.
This is the first thing of his I’ve read. It is sad and horrible, yet uplifting and wondrous.
Simon was abandoned on the farm where he lived. Left in what they thing was a hog pen, with no water or food except for what the small boy who lived there could sneak to him. Rescuers found Simon nearly dead, covered with maggots, horrible sores and hooves he could not walk on. They figured he’d had to walk on his ankles they were in such horrible shape. His teeth were rotting and he was in pain. They found lying down where they believe he had been for some time. As they treated him, they discovered that donkeys can scream.
They rescued the poor thing, and took him Mr. Katz’ small farm. Katz and his wife Maria had had three other donkeys by that time and took Simon in. They nursed him back to health, well as healthy as he could be.
While all that is lovely, the full title of this book is Saving Simon - How a Rescue Donkey Taught Me the Meaning of Compassion.
What is compassion? What does it mean to you?
1. Merriam-Webster says Compassion is: sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it
As I read this book and what Mr. Katz talks about I have to agree that with regard to animal abuse and neglect, the majority of us think it’s wrong. In fact we think it’s so wrong that we often say the perpetrators should be strung up, jailed, beaten or sometimes killed.
Where is the compassion there?
Why is it we can care so much for animals, yet have difficulty showing that compassion for the poor, the wronged, or even the farmer that left Simon alone, starving and sick?
I know from my own personal experience there is little compassion to our fellow man. When I was on the street, I was yelled at, spit on, beaten, robbed, and unseen. No one saw a fifteen year old boy who needed help. I often wondered what they thought exactly. Did they think I wanted to be there?
Mr. Katz, wanted to understand from the farmer, what had happened that would allow him to leave Simon in such a state. He went to talk with the man. However, the farmer was empty inside. He’d been through a lot; he couldn’t feed Simon any longer. He was losing his farm, couldn’t feed his family, things had gotten out of hand and it was easier to forget Simon. Katz asked why the farmer hadn’t just shot the donkey. The farmer replied he just couldn’t bring himself to go back there. He thought Simon was dead.
Why is it, knowing how Simon was left to suffer, and what the farmer was suffering, that we have no compassion for him?
All life on earth is connected. The only way to be truly compassionate is to free yourself from judging others. Only in doing that can we learn what compassion really is. However to do this, is a huge task and we are programmed to worry about our immediate world, for good reason. I judge, I read all of what was wrong with Simon and I hated the farmer.
But as I let myself feel for him, I hated him less and less. If someone had shown him compassion, perhaps Simon may have suffered less.
It’s a lot to think over but I’ll leave you with this:
“Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability, it is essential for human survival. – Dalai Lama XIV