Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from

Nature: Lessons From Non-Human Animals

From Ndlelende Ncube, CreatureKind
August 2023

In the chaotic world where we live, it's time for humankind to take a step back, take a deep breath, and learn from non-human animals how to love, demonstrate care, and make a better world for all.

wild Chickens
Denitsa Kireva,

Learning is one aspect of life that is fundamental for growth. The moment every creature enters life on this planet, it must learn to survive. Human animals learn to walk and talk while non-human animals learn to adapt and survive in the jungle, ocean, or another habitat. As human animals, we can learn about love from the Bible, as well as from the nature around us. From my experience we have much to learn from nature ó from flowers that bloom to grass that withers to quiet waters in rivers to lions in the jungle to fluffy cats and dogs in our homes, nature is humanityís best teacher.

In the chaotic world where we live, itís time for humankind to take a step back, take a deep breath, and learn from non-human animals how to love, demonstrate care, and make a better world for all. Growing up sharing borders with wildlife in the biggest national park in Zimbabwe, I had a precious opportunity to experience and appreciate wild animal life.

The way animals love, care, protect, and even fight demonstrates many lessons that can inspire humans to live a life that is God-designed. Unlike humans, I donít believe that non-human animals have diverted from Godís creation. They seem to follow the book of how the Creator made them. As a young boy, I was fascinated by chickens, but I had a hard time with them when any of the hens or chicks would fight me. Even today, I still have some chicken scars on my body. Hens will always fight and protect their chicks, a sign of maternal love. The hen is self-sacrificing, nurturing, protective, and comforting. There is much to learn from the hen, rather than abusing them for our greedy appetites.

In the Bible, Jesus paints a beautiful picture of love and care for his people. Matthew 23:37 reads, ďO, Jerusalem . . . how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wingsĒ (KJV).

Jesus uses the hen and her sheltering wings not only as a metaphor for his desired relationship with Israel but as a symbol of godly love, communicated in the image of a motherís love for her children. To talk of patience, a hen will sit on her eggs for 21 days patiently waiting, turning her eggs, with little time to feed and enjoy herself because she knows that joy will come when the little chicks hatch. Sometimes we humans are intolerant. We can be selfish and think only of our desires. There is a great lesson here for us to learn from the hen. Psalm 91:4 says, ďHe shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and bucklerĒ (KJV). Chicks trust being under their motherís wings. In case of danger, they will find refuge under their motherís wings. Can we as humans be trusted as a mother hen is trusted? Can other humans and non-human animals find refuge under our wings? Can other people who are different from us trust us? How do we see and preserve the homeless, less privileged, disabled, children, women, and people of color? A lesson from a hen is enough to make the world a better place for all Godís creatures.

We donít talk much about locusts or grasshoppers, but they are special animals that I love to watch. They come in beautiful shiny colors. They have powerful back legs used to jump or fight predators. Locusts are special as individuals, but more special is their ability to function as a team. One or two locusts are nothing to worry about, but when they come in numbers, they scare entire human nations. I remember years back we had a threat of locusts in Africa. They were devouring any green plant along their way. In Zimbabwe, they shadowed the sun.

Proverbs 30:27 tells us that ďLocusts have no king, yet all of them go out in rankĒ (KJV). As humans, we cannot do much as individuals, but when we function as a team, a team of Godís creation, we are unstoppable. We can reduce climate change, we can cure diseases, and we can make the earth a better place for all. It all starts when we realize that we are all Godís creatures, and we need each other. We should not exploit each other.

Proverbs 6:6-8 says, ďGo to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvestĒ (KJV). In my tradition, this is a popular passage, but perhaps many of us miss the big lesson from this text. Ants are small. They are not intimidating or poisonous, but they are organized. If only humans could organize themselves as ants do, this world would be a paradise for all. Ants donít wait for any leader or commander to do what is good work. Rather, itís something that is within them to work. As humans, what is it within us that we are not giving to the world? Itís time we show love, compassion, and all the good that is within us and is God-given. Ants are precious creatures. No matter their size, they can accomplish great things. In my African language, there is a saying, ďAnts killed an elephant,Ē which means we can achieve big results when all Godís creatures work and come together.

Instead of spending time and resources trying to tell the difference between humans and non-human animals, it is time for humans to listen and learn from non-human animals. Reading the book, Beasts of Burden: Animal and Disability Liberation by Sunaura Taylor, I learned how humans have exploited and abused animals because of our differences. Itís time to embrace, learn, and appreciate our differences as they make the world beautiful and worth living in. How awful would it be if the earth had only one type of creature? God in Godís wisdom made us all different creatures so that we can appreciate and complement each other.

In my early days as an animal advocate, I spent a lot of time with working animals, especially working donkeys. These poor animals are a reflection of how sick our societies have become. The abuse I saw them receive through carrying heavy loads, receiving beatings, and bearing ill treatment was unbearable to me. What makes it even worse is how people benefit from these most-abused animals. When considering hard work, humans have a lot to learn from donkeys. Agriculture relies on donkeys for transportation. Donkeys are actively serving human beings without complaining. With its power and speed, a donkey still submits to a 10-year-old boy as its driver, not because the boy is powerful, but because it is in the nature of the donkey. As human beings, we can heed the wisdom of a donkey and see that the power and dominion given to us was not to be abused, making the lives of other creatures hell, but to serve for the good of all creation.

In conclusion, I would like to submit that as human beings we have diverted from Godís original plan, and we have diverted from nature. We are the only creatures in the whole universe that are going against Godís plan and our rebellion and stubbornness hurt every creature, especially non-human animals. As human beings, itís time we take deep breaths, examine our actions, and take time to learn valuable lessons from animals. When we come close to these special non-human creatures, there is much we can learn. We can learn love and compassion from a cat taking a nap beside us. We can learn loyalty and the importance of family from a dog; the kindness from an elephant comforting a friend; the love and responsibility from a hen taking her young ones under her wings. The valuable lessons we can learn and adopt from non-human animals can, not only make our relationships with non-human animals better, but these lessons will also help us improve our relationships with fellow humans regardless of gender, age, nationality, race, or religion.

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