Page after page might readily be filled with most interesting as well as inspiring portrayals of their superior intelligence, their remarkable capabilities under kind and judicious training, their _faithfulness_ and _devotion_. The efforts of such noble and devoted workers as Henry Bergh in New York, of George T. Angell in Massachusetts, and many others in various parts of the country, have already brought about a great change in our attitude toward and relations with this great body of our fellow-creatures, and have made all the world more thoughtful, considerate, and kind. This, however, is just the beginning of a work that is assuming greater and ever greater proportions.
The work of the American Humane Education Society[A] is probably surpassed in its vitality and far-reaching results by the work of no other society in the world to-day. Its chief object is the humane education of the American people; and through one phase of its work alone–its Bands of Mercy, over twenty-five thousand of which have already been formed, giving regular, systematic humane training and instruction to between one and two million children, and these continually increasing in numbers–a most vital work is being done, such as no man can estimate.
The humane sentiment inculcated in one’s relations with the animal world, and its resultant feelings of sympathy, tenderness, love, and care, will inevitably manifest itself in one’s relations with his fellows; and I for one, would rejoice to see this work carried into every school throughout the length and breadth of the land. In many cases this one phase of the child’s training would be of far more vital value and import as he grows to manhood than all the rest of the schooling combined, and it would form a most vital entering wedge in the solution of our social situation.
And why should we not speak to and kindly greet an animal as we pass it, as instinctively as we do a human fellow-being? Though it may not get our words, it will invariably get the attitude and the motive that prompts them, and will be affected accordingly. This it will do every time. Animals in general are marvellously sensitive to the mental conditions, the thought forces, and emotions of people. Some are peculiarly sensitive, and can detect them far more quickly and unerringly than many people can.
It ought to help us greatly in our relations with them ever fully to realize that they with us are parts of the one Universal Life, simply different forms of the manifestation of the One Life, having their part to play in the economy of the great universe the same as we have ours, having their destiny to work out the same as we have ours, and just as important, just as valuable, in the sight of the All in All as we ourselves.
“I saw deep in the eyes of the animals the human soul look out upon me.
“I saw where it was born deep down under feathers and fur, or condemned for a while to roam four-footed among the brambles. I caught the clinging mute glance of the prisoner, and swore I would be faithful.
“Thee my brother and sister I see, and mistake not. Do not be afraid. Dwelling thus for a while, fulfilling thy appointed time, thou, too, shall come to thyself at last.
“Thy half-warm horns and long tongue lapping round my wrist do not conceal thy humanity any more than the learned talk of the pedant conceals his,–for all thou art dumb, we have words and plenty between us.
“Come nigh, little bird, with your half-stretched quivering wings,–within you I behold choirs of angels, and the Lord himself in vista.”[B]
But a small thing, apparently, is a kind look, word, or service of some kind; but, oh! who can tell where it may end? It costs the giver comparatively nothing; but who can tell the priceless value to him who receives it? The cup of loving service, be it merely a cup of cold water, may grow and swell into a boundless river, refreshing and carrying life and hope in turn to numberless others, and these to others, and so have no end. This may be just the critical moment in some life. Given now, it may save or change a life or a destiny. So don’t withhold the bread that’s in your keeping, but
“Scatter it with willing fingers, shout for joy to see it go.”
There is no greater thing in life that you can do, and nothing that will bring you such rich and precious returns.
The question is sometimes asked, How can one feel a deep and genuine love, a love sufficient to manifest itself in service for all?–there are some so mean, so small, with so many peculiar, objectionable, or even obnoxious characteristics. True, very true, apparently at least; but another great law of life is that _we find in men and women exactly those qualities, those characteristics, we look for, or that are nearest akin to the predominant qualities or characteristics of our own natures_. If we look for the peculiar, the little, the objectionable, these we shall find; but back of all this, all that is most apparent on the exterior, in the depths of each and every human soul, is the good, the true, the brave, the loving, the divine, the God-like, that that never changes, the very God Himself that at some time or another will show forth His full likeness.