Thursday, February 6, 2014

Animal Wisdom

When I was in college, I had a conversation with a member of the Blackfeet tribe. He told me that for his people, they believed that the animals came before humans, so they are like the older brothers of the family. Because of that, people observed the animals and learned from them. By seeing what a bear eats in the wild, you can figure out which foods are poisonous and which are fine. You can see which plants have medicinal values. You can find ways to make shelter.

Ever since then, I’ve been intrigued by animal wisdom. Our culture generally regards animals as lesser creatures because they can’t use words or build things with tools. There is a great deal of high-function processing that animals are simply incapable of. But in a certain sense, that doesn’t make us better than them.

Sparrows may not have the luxury of antibiotics to cure infections, but they also don’t get ulcers from stress. They don’t worry about whether or not the sparrow next door likes them. They don’t have to fight one another for jobs at Sparrow Inc. They eat when they’re hungry and sleep when they’re tired. They avoid trouble as best as they can, and when trouble finds them, they get out of the way.

So many of people’s problems just don’t happen in the animal world. And there is definitely wisdom in not getting wrapped up in people’s pettiness.

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