“You can judge the morality of a nation by the way the society treats its animals.” (Mahatma Gandhi)
Today, I want to share what I think is an important story.
A few weeks ago, I was out with three of my friends. We’re all undergrads, but two of us were in the “pre-vet” stream (as in they were planning to become veterinarians). These two people were extreme animal lovers; you know, the type that gush uncontrollably at every dog they cross paths with. One is magnificently in love with her cat.
We had just gotten off the bus in front of a building with an outdoor alcove kind of thing, when these two friends noticed something was off with a lone pigeon that was squatting there.
The pigeon was your normal feral pigeon. The type that’s in no way near extinction. The type you find all around the world from New York to London to Hong Kong:
There was something wrong with its wings – there was also something wrong with its right foot. I think it was missing a toe and it was limping. It was obviously wary of us but didn’t fly away. We assumed it was really hurt.
My two pre-vet friends immediately stopped in their tracks and had a serious discussion on what to do. They called a bunch of wildlife rescue hotlines, but everything was closed on Sunday. All the while, bystanders peered curiously at this anxious-looking group staring at an immobile pigeon.
Finally, they called the vet technician that works in the place they volunteer for, and he recommended a bird rescue centre a few blocks down the street. My two friends delegated my other friend and I to keep the pigeon away from the busy street. They hopped on the westbound bus and hoped to be back as soon as possible.
It was an agonizingly long wait for my other friend and I. We stood obediently in front of the pigeon, blocking its way from the street, but as time progressed it started getting braver and more desperate, wobbling real near us with a clear plan to escape. Not wanting to touch it, I desperately texted my two vet friends to hurry the hell up.
They offered us updates along the way back. The bird rescue place was closed but there were people in there that gave them a box they could use to “capture” the pigeon. (However the hell they were going to do that…I had no idea.)
Anyways, just five minutes or so before they came back, the pigeon found a space between my friend and I and…miraculously flew off.
Turns out it wasn’t that injured after all (its flight was a little wobbly), but that’s not the point of the story.
The point of the story is that it restores my faith in humanity that there are still people who will stop their day in the middle to help out a “lesser” being.
If it was just me on the street walking past the bird, I would of just walked past. Maybe droop the corners of my mouth in sympathy, but walk past.
But those two young people didn’t. They stopped, they stayed, they cut short a day that was meant to be a rare get-together of friends who study on opposite sides of the planet most months of the year. They stopped and as helpless as they felt, they tried – they fucking tried. Everything they could.
Gandhi says that “you can judge the morality of a nation by the way the society treats its animals,” and I wouldn’t agree any less. Those who are willing to donate time and energy to sympathize with our fellow animals are the ones with true humanity. To care for your fellow man is noble, but to care for your fellow animal (and to think of animals as fellows!) is truly righteous.