To the Editor:
All the major religions of the world have taught conservation, respect for nature and the environment and kindness to animals. They all have at least some tradition recognizing a doctrine of God’s love for all the creatures of the world. The obligation of humans to respect and protect the natural environment appears throughout the Bible and the writings of the prophets and leaders of these great religions.
Many Christians see deep significance in the story of Jesus – beginning his life among animals; denied shelter and lodging by the humans of Bethlehem; Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph, were forced to use a manger for Jesus’ birthplace. There, Jesus was born, many say, in the company of such animals as donkeys, oxen, cows, sheep, goats and other creatures. Turned away by humans, the only companionship the holy family could find on the first Christmas Eve was that of animals. Jesus’ frequent references to animals and nature confirmed his awareness on this theme, and he often represented animals as being under God’s providence.
The book of Isaiah, so often cited by Jesus and his disciples, is full of exultations to show kindness and compassion to living things and to respect nature. Jesus repeatedly stated to practice love and mercy. And to respect nature is consistent with – and indeed fundamental to – the humane and preservation ethic.
Ghandi said that the greatness of a nation and the progress of its morals is determined by the way in which we treat our animals. And wherein lies the hope that we can turn the tide? It lies, I think, among those persons who are able to view themselves as only one part of a very complex and marvelous world, rather than its master. It lies with those who understand that being truly human means being truly humane and that cruelty and the wanton and needless destruction of other creatures destroys ourselves as human beings.