Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Heartwarming Thoughts on a Cold Afternoon
And perhaps this last title won't seem as pertinent to some but I am as much disposed to my relationships and considerations of animals and plants as I am of those I have with and for people. And as far as displays of compassion and examples of love go, I'll take 'em anywhere I find 'em:
Wild elephants walking along a trail stop and spontaneously try to protect and assist a weak and dying fellow elephant. Laboratory rats, finding other rats caged nearby in distressing circumstances, proceed to rescue them. A chimpanzee in a zoo loses his own life trying to save an unrelated infant who has fallen into a watery moat.
The examples above and many others, argues Dale Peterson, show that our fellow creatures have powerful impulses toward cooperation, generosity, and fairness.
This rigorous and stimulating book challenges that notion, and it shows the profound connections-the moral continuum-that link humans to many other species. Peterson shows how much animal behavior follows principles embodied in humanity's ancient moral codes, from the Ten Commandments to the New Testament. Understanding the moral lives of animals offers new insight into our own.
The last two titles are on our New in Hardcover Table. It is always nice to find little reminders that tenderness and love are the default action, and that people are illuminating these truths to uplift those who happen upon them. I will end this celebration of human understanding with some quotes I also recently found that speak to all these hopes and insights:
"Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind." -Henry James
"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other." -Mother Teresa
"A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved." -Kurt Vonnegut
"I'm a human being first and foremost, and as such I'm for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole." -Malcolm X
"it's love that enables him to feel another's pain as if it were his own...we are one another's lesson, one another's duty...replace metaphysics with human relationships"- Zadie Smith