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Compassion

Mikiesboy

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This contains some descriptions of animal abuse. If you're sensitive you may not want to read on. 

 

 

I’m reading a book called, Saving Simon by Jon Katz. Simon is a donkey and Jon Katz is a writer. He writes often about dogs.

This is the first thing of his I’ve read. It is sad and horrible, yet uplifting and wondrous.

 

Simon was abandoned on the farm where he lived.  Left in what they thing was a hog pen, with no water or food except for what the small boy who lived there could sneak to him.  Rescuers found Simon nearly dead, covered with maggots, horrible sores and hooves he could not walk on. They figured he’d had to walk on his ankles they were in such horrible shape. His teeth were rotting and he was in pain. They found lying down where they believe he had been for some time.  As they treated him, they discovered that donkeys can scream.

 

They rescued the poor thing, and took him Mr. Katz’ small farm. Katz and his wife Maria had had three other donkeys by that time and took Simon in. They nursed him back to health, well as healthy as he could be.

 

While all that is lovely, the full title of this book is Saving Simon - How a Rescue Donkey Taught Me the Meaning of Compassion.

 

What is compassion? What does it mean to you?

 

1.    Merriam-Webster says Compassion is: sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it

                                                                                                                                                              

As I read this book and what Mr. Katz talks about I have to agree that with regard to animal abuse and neglect, the majority of us think it’s wrong. In fact we think it’s so wrong that we often say the perpetrators should be strung up, jailed, beaten or sometimes killed. 

 

Where is the compassion there?

 

Why is it we can care so much for animals, yet have difficulty showing that compassion for the poor, the wronged, or even the farmer that left Simon alone, starving and sick?

 

I know from my own personal experience there is little compassion to our fellow man. When I was on the street, I was yelled at, spit on, beaten, robbed, and unseen. No one saw a fifteen year old boy who needed help. I often wondered what they thought exactly. Did they think I wanted to be there?

 

Mr. Katz, wanted to understand from the farmer, what had happened that would allow him to leave Simon in such a state. He went to talk with the man. However, the farmer was empty inside. He’d been through a lot; he couldn’t feed Simon any longer. He was losing his farm, couldn’t feed his family, things had gotten out of hand and it was easier to forget Simon.  Katz asked why the farmer hadn’t just shot the donkey. The farmer replied he just couldn’t bring himself to go back there. He thought Simon was dead.  

 

Why is it, knowing how Simon was left to suffer, and what the farmer was suffering, that we have no compassion for him?

 

All life on earth is connected. The only way to be truly compassionate is to free yourself from judging others. Only in doing that can we learn what compassion really is. However to do this, is a huge task and we are programmed to worry about our immediate world, for good reason.  I judge, I read all of what was wrong with Simon and I hated the farmer.

 

But as I let myself feel for him, I hated him less and less. If someone had shown him compassion, perhaps Simon may have suffered less.

 

It’s a lot to think over but I’ll leave you with this:

 

“Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability, it is essential for human survival.  – Dalai Lama XIV

 

 

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Hi tim, you brought up a very difficult question. One I so often asked myself. To my experience there is no simple answer. And as thinking about this issue normally brings up so many thoughts in my head, I try to make a list and stick to some things in my mind.

 

1) Compassion is something humans have to train. We start training it as babies, by reflecting facial expressions of our parents, which starts to build certain neurons in the brain. If a baby doesn`t get enough social interaction, it will develope an lack of these. Later in life it is necessary to train compassion further, by talking with kids about what they feel  and how they think, what others feel. Often kids don`t have the words to describe and there is a number of kids out there, who aren`t able to red facial impressions. If nobody cares to train them, they don`t get better as adults on their own.

2) I think a big part of the problem is, that everyone sees his own problem naturally bigger as others. Than it mixes with laziness - why should I care, he/she is old enough, if nobody else cares, why me, I have problems on my own. etc.

3) People are often afraid of other people. There is always the prospect to get judged, no matter what you do, even if you try to help.

 

4) Animals don`t judge, like humans.

5) Taking care of them drives normally a direct link to our brain, to feel good.

 

6) Taking care of humans is much more difficult as for animals. First every human has a voice to say his opinion and what I think would help, don`t has to be the same, what he/she thinks. But second there are often high burdens to take of bureaucracy. Even if it is your day to day work, sometimes it seems overwhelming. So I understand, that some people feel helpless to help.

 

7) For people often it is hard to accept, that you sometimes have to help, without knowing what the outcome will be. They are trained by society to have success. But helping people often isn`t payed by a measureabel or society norm success. Sometimes there a back lashes etc. I think this makes a high burden, too. Just to help, without expecting everything will be fine, when you are finished.

 

So this is my little list. But you know me. I wouldn`t accept anything of what I wrote as an excuse, just a try of an explanation.

 

The head is round so thoughts can change directions. ;)

 

Sending you hugs and love Lyssa

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Lyssa

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@BlindAmbition It's not an easy thing - compassion. This book has really made me think maybe see a few things differently. To stop and think before reacting. Thanks for your comments.

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@Lyssa You're right of course - compassion - there is so much mixed up in it.  It's not an easy or simple thing. All the more reason to talk about it. Think about it and what it means.  None of us is perfect and compassion isn't something easily switched on, or off.  We need to teach it to ourselves.  Thanks for your wonderful response!

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Have I told you lately how marvelous I think you are? I'm sure this author lives in New Jersey. He talks about an old pony who lives outside who is given some grain but finds water on his own. He did say Simon could have too. I don't understand cruelty and neglect like Simon suffered, but I am grateful the vet, the state troopers, and others refused to let go without a fight. Thanks Kitt for your insightful comments. Xoxo 

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It's very easy to judge and condemn others, especially when you only have one side of the story.

 

 

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7 minutes ago, Valkyrie said:

It's very easy to judge and condemn others, especially when you only have one side of the story.

 

 

That's very true. I've done it. But that's the thing about compassion ... do we need to know? If we have both sides aren't we then still judging? Deciding who gets our compassion?  Thanks Val...appreciate your comments! 

Edited by Mikiesboy
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There are three sides to every story.  Person A's perspective, Person B's perspective, and the truth.  You need to know A and B to get to C.  We hear Simon's story and hate the farmer.  He must be a horrible person to let such an atrocity happen.  Then we learn his own struggles, and develop some empathy for the man.  Why do we have to decide who gets compassion?  Can't they both?  

 

Here's a picture I saw on FB this morning that shows that compassion is still alive.  A group of people surrounded a suicidal man on a bridge and held him until help could arrive.  It brought tears to my eyes.  

 

Image may contain: 1 person, outdoor

 

 

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Sometimes life is more than a person can handle without the help of others ...

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@Valkyrie Yes most certainly both deserve compassion!  We all do. It's such a huge topic and we forget or misplace it. Or there are so many that need help. and we are overwhelmed.

 

And yeah, the picture says a lot. And those are good people but it's unlikely they can help that poor guy more than doing what they have so rightly done.

 

I guess my question is what happens now? You have saved him, but what now?  Why was he there? Will he get the help he so obviously needs. You know what i mean?  I know you dont have all the answers, none of us do. I'm just thinking.. 

 

Perhaps we need to learn to have compassion for ourselves, as well as others.   But society is so isolating if you dont have family or friends you can turn to. 

Sometimes when you're alone, it doesn't feel like there is a 'family of man'.

 

Thanks Val.. 

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18 minutes ago, dughlas said:

Sometimes life is more than a person can handle without the help of others ...

You're right dugh. 

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To answer your question: Yes, I think they thought you were there because of your own choices.

 

When I was young, to me almost all things were pretty simple.
In my mind, people always had a choice. The exception being if they are imprisoned or otherwise physically restrained. 

 

What I did not see then is that there are mental prisons too. Either self-imposed or even worse, imposed by others. These kind of prisons are even stronger restrainers than a cold dark room with bars... they can render you totally defenseless

 

I only learned that when I got a bit more life experience... 
Unfortunately not everybody learns.

 

edit: The relevance to compassion of this is my opinion that compassion for others outside of your own group is something you learn... I am not convinced it is engrained in people, unless it is for your own group.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Freerider
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Quote

Katz asked why the farmer hadn’t just shot the donkey.

 

I want to ask why the people who found the donkey didn't do the same? I've just been reading 'Riding Lessons' by Andrew Todd. One of his main characters calmly explains the sad fact of why you have to show mercy and put down a horse that breaks a leg. (And why this is a very good reason to make sure it doesn't happen in the first place).

I know you cannot answer the above, and probably the author wanted to hold the highest moral ground he could when telling the story and when talking to the farmer. But the time, money and compassion spent on nursing the donkey might have been better spent on human kids who needed it - or even on preventing other animals ending there by lending a helping hand to a farmer or neighbor.

Humans tend to project the feelings and compassion they (should) have for each other onto animals. This is often bad for the animals (think of overfed, bored, or ill-behaved dogs), and sometimes I wonder if people do this because it's easier than dealing with humans. Lyssa's arguments are quite good. It's why we see those awful cases of year-long abuse surface time and time again. :( 

Anyway, I agree compassion is indeed an important human trait - and in fact some say several animal species share it or at least something quite similar. We can never have enough compassion in the world.

Edited by Timothy M.
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5 minutes ago, Timothy M. said:

 

I want to ask why the people who found the donkey didn't do the same? I've just been reading 'Riding Lessons' by Andrew Todd. One of his main characters calmly explains the sad fact of why you have to show mercy and put down a horse that breaks a leg. (And why this is a very good reason to make sure it doesn't happen in the first place).

I know you cannot answer the above, and probably the author wanted to hold the highest moral ground he could when telling the story and when talking to the farmer. But the time, money and compassion spent on nursing the donkey might have been better spent on human kids who needed it - or even on preventing other animals ending there by lending a helping hand t a farmer or neighbor.

Humans tend to project the feelings and compassion they (should) have for each other onto animals. This is often bad for the animals (think of overfed, bored, or ill-behaved dogs), and sometimes I wonder if people do this because it's easier than dealing with humans. Lyssa's arguments are quite good. It's why we see those awful cases of year-long abuse surface time and time again. :( 

Anyway, I agree compassion is indeed an important human trait - and in fact some say several animal species share it or at least something quite similar. We can never have enough compassion in the world.

They did consider shooting him. But they'd been watching the place for a few days and finally decided to arrest the farmer for neglect or whatever it was. They had a vet and animal control and state troopers there. They decided they wanted to give Simon a chance to live.  

 

Katz seems to be a realist to me. Animals are animals, he doesn't project emotions onto them. He wanted to talk to the farmer because he wanted a balanced story and he wanted to understand why the farmer would allow this to happen. 

 

There's a story in the book about Simon, being now healthy protecting the chickens from a very determined fox. One chicken who had been snatched by the fox and then released when Simon charged stayed by Simon from then on. She'd jump on his back and clean the fleas and thing off him. He'd take her to the donkey's hay and she could get her fill of the choicest bugs there!  It's quite interesting to read. 

 

Thanks for your insight Tim!!

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Thanks, tim, that made things clearer to me, and I think Katz should be lauded for searching out the reasons behind the mistreatment. If you understand it's not ill-will but inability to cope, perhaps it's easier to help by suggesting the farmer take a couple of days of (with wife or kids) and let you pitch in with the animals, or simply offer to help share the work as a good neighbor (the words 'you can do the same for me another time' can help with any mistaken pride).

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11 minutes ago, Timothy M. said:

Thanks, tim, that made things clearer to me, and I think Katz should be lauded for searching out the reasons behind the mistreatment. If you understand it's not ill-will but inability to cope, perhaps it's easier to help by suggesting the farmer take a couple of days of (with wife or kids) and let you pitch in with the animals, or simply offer to help share the work as a good neighbor (the words 'you can do the same for me another time' can help with any mistaken pride).

Yeah, the farmer was told by his lawyer not to speak to anyone, but he did say that his farm was failing, he couldnt feed his family or his livestock. He put Simon out there because it was easier. But Katz said that he thought Simon may have done all right had the farmer just left him in the fields. 

 

Katz also said the farmers were not ones to admit easily they are in trouble. But really i think that's most of us. No one wants to admit they are having issues or need help. We forget that charity is not only giving, but receiving as well. 

 

I'm not finished this book yet. But the part about compassion made me think and i just had to say what i was thinking. I may be back with more about Simon. 

Edited by Mikiesboy
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On 5/6/2017 at 5:17 AM, Valkyrie said:

 Person A's perspective, Person B's perspective, and the truth.

 

 

The truth is not open to interpretation, or shifting it through a personal filter. Abuse is abuse, imo. Abuse has no justification, and only beasts pretend they hurt for reasons of 'i know better than you.' This is my personal opinion. 

 

 

 

Edited by AC Benus
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3 hours ago, AC Benus said:

The truth is not open to interpretation, or shifting it through a personal filter. Abuse is abuse, imo. Abuse has no justification, and only beasts pretend they hurt for reasons of 'i know better than you.' This is my personal opinion. 

 

 

 

Agreed AC   One person's version of the truth, isn't necessarily the truth.  

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