Once upon a time we sheltered and protected our domesticated animals. We ensured they were well fed, and if they fell ill, we healed them when we could. Most importantly perhaps, we helped them with childbirth.
In exchange we took their milk but always ensured the animals’ younglings didn’t go hungry for lack of it. We took their wool, but gave them warm shelters for cold winter nights. For the last part of the bargain, we took them for meat, after having given them a safer, healthier life.
Now, there’s no exchange. No symbiosis.
We don’t provide in exchange for what we take.
We torture, exploit, desecrate both the animals, and our own integrity, as we fail to live up to any kind of mutually beneficial relationship. We take greedily with no sense or understanding of what we ought to give, or what we ought to have provided, in return.
This greed, this culture of theft, now permeates more and more aspects of our lives. And we no longer recognize the lambs among us, that are ours to help care for. We no longer ensure there are comfy beds for the horses in our midst, who spend their days pulling heavy burdens so that our faltering economies don’t fail.
But I think we can change this. I believe small changes, little sparks of kindness, gentleness with others, genuine greetings and acknowledgements of the unnoticed that cross our paths every day – these can reverse the trend, bring our focus back to empathy and our ties to each other as members of a community that flourishes best when all members are valued and given an opportunity to contribute, not only what is most needed, but what they most want to give.