All right, another.
This one seems harder.
Step one: Where am I?
A park? That’s different.
I guess I’ll walk through the park.
I wonder what I’m looking for? How will I know when I find it? Just look, I guess.
It’s a big, squarish park inside an urban area. The buildings cluster around the park’s edges and rise above the treetops, reflecting the afternoon sun.
A blue lake sparkles in the center of the park’s tightly textured hills. Cattails fill one corner of the lake.
Do I see—a rabbit? It’s cute. But—it’s injured?
There is another little boy, standing at the edge of the reeds, beside the rabbit. The rabbit is injured, dying. The little boy is deeply upset, although he stands silently, unmoving, just gazing at the rabbit.
This doesn’t fully make sense. Why would the rabbit be in the reeds? Rabbits don’t usually go in such a moist area. The boy’s shoes are muddy as he stands still on the slippery bank. Still, that’s what it is.
I crouched down beside the boy. Maybe he was the same boy I saw earlier.
The rabbit’s suffering, and his inability to do anything about it, was distressing him.
This was not a simple problem.
I thought of a few philosophical responses, but they didn’t seem to get at the heart of the issue. How do you console the pure-hearted compassion of a child? How do you respect the spiritual beauty and depth of a child’s compassion?
You can’t say that the rabbit didn’t really suffer—it clearly did. Animals feel. You can’t say that it doesn’t matter—it clearly does. The little boy cares, and so do I. And it doesn’t really help to say that life just isn’t fair. That doesn’t really make a person feel better. It’s not a truly satisfying response.
I looked up into the little boy’s face. “I am with you,” I said. “And both of us are with the rabbit. Maybe he can feel how much we care. Maybe that made him feel a little better. You can feel when someone loves you, just when they are near you, right? It makes you feel warm, makes things seem a little easier. Perhaps animals can feel love, too.”
Look not upon the creatures of God except with the eye of kindliness and of mercy, for Our loving providence hath pervaded all created things, and Our grace encompassed the earth and the heavens. ~ Baha’u’llah