At first, I followed people I knew or had heard of, people in my writing group, and a few anipals I found. Now, I'm almost exclusively following anipals. And therein lies my problem.
Several of them are sick and at least 2 have passed away since I started following. Tonight, I read another is going to be put down tomorrow. A bunny, this time.
How silly am I to cry over these animals I don't even know? Especially when there are so many other things going on in the world that many would agree are much worse. Still, it takes something small and personal to touch my heart.
I believe most people are like that. The big things: genocide, famine, disasters, mass murders, wars--these are impersonal, distant occurrences that have no real 'face' to them.
Yet the death of a single dog I only know through Twitter is enough to make me cry for days and breaks my heart. I think the key is that I've some sort of relationship with this 'anipal' through reading tweets. I've been given an insight into his life and now it's ending.
Of course, I've always been more affected by the death of an animal than a person, unless that person is personally dear to me. I believe one reason for this disconnect has to do with the fact that most people understand what's happening to them. They can take actions to avoid needless suffering or illness or death (to a certain extent).
Animals don't know why they're sick or hurt and they look to us to make them better. They didn't ask for someone to poison them or hit them with a car or beat them or make them fight. They didn't ask for slaughter. They're just going along, living their little animal lives when something happens to hurt or kill them.
Responsibilty for their welfare weighs heavily on my heart. In Genesis, God told Adam He was giving Man dominion over the creatures of the earth. In a way, He was making Man god of the animals on earth.
What kind of gods and goddesses are we when we torture, abuse, ignore the suffering of the creatures of the earth? Would we want our own God to ignore our needs like we do the animals? Would we want Him to turn a blind eye to our suffering?
I don't think so. I know I'm only one person and I'm so frustrated that I can't do more to take care of the helpless and voiceless.
I cross-stitched an angel with a prayer that hangs in our house:
Keep watch, dear Angel
And guard with Tenderness
Small Things which
Have No Words.
I say this prayer every day.