Thursday, June 22, 2006

Bless the beasts and the children

Last Sunday at Promontory Point I saw two rabbits in a challenge for territory. Their posturing brought them out of their rocky warren into the open, where they stayed for longer than was wise.

People saw them. The first, two young men, tried to surround and corner them against the rocks.

A couple with a dog noticed them, although they had retreated to some shelter between rocks. When the man, who was walking the dog, realized he'd spotted rabbits, he turned the dog around to point out the warren. The dog sniffed anxiously around where the rabbits were wedged and started to get excited. The man pointed this out to the woman, who laughed. Teasing animals, even your own pet, is apparently amusing, never mind the undoubtedly terrified rabbits.

Later, two small children came along. I noticed them staring intently between the rocks and asked them if they could see the rabbits. They said yes and asked me what they were doing. I told them that the rabbits were hiding and that they might be looking for food. At that, both children tore leaves off the weeds and tried to tempt the rabbits out, with no luck. They soon gave up.

Only the children showed curiosity about and empathy for the rabbits. Unlike the adults, who knew their actions would be distressing to the prey animals, the children seemed less interested in demonstrating their mastery over the creatures than in finding out what they were doing and what they wanted. By trying to lure the rabbits out with food, they hoped both to see them better and to give them something to eat—win-win, so to speak.

I hope that, in 10 years, and 20, those children still have a sense of connection with fellow creatures, even rabbits.

But then I remember that the two young men, the man with the dog, and the woman who laughed also were children once. What kind?

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