Thoughts for the Year 2014  

By Heidi Trautmann….

Dear Family, dear Friends,

2014 is coming to an end and the time has come to make the sums of plus and minus, and draw our final conclusion. I did too; and I have tried to observe and follow movements in society, especially of the young people, they react faster and talk more easily. Heidi picMy conclusion of 2014? Here it is:

Animals are our best friends….

The worse humanity gets and the more wars we have, the more people turn their attention to animals, or rather to the human streak in animals. Aren’t they cute, why can’t we behave like the animals do, I read in many messages posted on facebook.  Facebook is a good indicator for trends in society, you can feel the pulse. Not one day passes without cats and dogs barking and miaowing across the screen, our companions, with scenes showing the compassion of animals towards their masters – the faithful friend – watching over new-born babies just as over old people sick in their bed, or jumping into dangerous waters or through a fire wall to save a life.

Owners of cats and dogs are proud of showing the intelligence of their ‘partners’, but it does not stop here, they want to demonstrate the peacefulness of animals among each other; cats playing with mice, monkeys, also their big relatives, the orang-utans, cuddling all kind of fledglings, reminding us of the Tarzan ‘legend’, for me as a kid of ten years a true and loved legend it was…..or the Jungle Book with little Mogli brought up by a wolf family.

Facebook friends outdo one another, dig up video clips of wild animals establishing family bonds with babies of other species, scenes never shown before. I can remember that our house cat allowed the small chicks to find shelter in her warm fur. However, that does happen with domesticated animals, they get used to each other; or animals in zoos perhaps or open animal farms where orphans are being kept until they are fit to be released.

We know of friendship bonds between humans and wild animals when they had grown up together or when for example lion cubs had lost their mother and were brought up by a human mom or dad, this bond is forever valid. We know the story of Jane Goodall and her chimpanzees in Tanzania. But we don’t have to go that far, we know of relations building up between a farmer and his cattle, horse Bob the Catbreeders and riders and their horses; there are many animal care centres all around the world looking after abandoned fledglings.

Animal stories are always very touching, the latest book I read was ‘Bob, the Cat’ a ginger cat adopting a street musician, it went around the world.

Most of these strong bonds start to form when the one or other is a small helpless bundle of life, it will automatically be adopted and cared for by any animal that belongs to the household, the helpless youngster would not be attacked. When you want to introduce a new animal then you must get it as a baby, the older they are the more difficult it is to get them used to each other.

Why is that so? Small living beings still have blind trust and know nothing of the hardness of life to survive, and when jealousy sets in and mistrust. While growing up all living beings have their bad experiences and they build up fences; that is so with human and animal children; a living being that was hurt will bite.

Trust is the big word, whom can we trust? I often hear people say, especially older ones that their best friend is their dog or cat. Trust, the binding link. I have heard of stories where animals are admitted to hospitals or old age homes to accompany their charge to the final gate, death, or on the contrary to help recovering, especially when small patients are feeling alone. I read of another touching story, of a whale in connection with an English warship in the WhaleAtlantic during the Falkland war: La Baline des Malouines – The Falkland Whale by Pierre Boulle, I loved reading it, it could have been true.

Unfortunately, there are just as many stories where the animals are not regarded as our friends but are used to deliver parts of their body for our personal needs, as aphrodisiac in Asian countries, the fur of animals for fashion, or are regarded as objects for the uncontrolled hunting sports. However, the latter must not be mixed up with wildlife management keeping nature in balance in a wildlife resort, or in our forests where there are no longer any natural enemies, they have all been extinct. Lawful hunting is in some areas a must to protect nature. However, in such areas where they have re-introduced wolves or bears, forest managers have realised an improvement of nature in general and an interference with arms is no longer necessary.

In Buddhism animals are regarded as sentient beings and the thought that a human can be reborn as an animal or vice versa keeps Paintingthe Buddhists in respect of anything living. I used to tell my children, grandchildren and now great grandchildren that one should always treat animals with respect because … ‘you never know if one day you will enter their kingdom and they will remember what you have done to them’ and I taught them to not be afraid of insects, such as spiders or bees, and rather carry them to safety when they are trapped somewhere.

I have come a long way now, from the moment I shook my head in wonder over the many stories on facebook that made me write down my thoughts,  right through to Buddhism.  It remains a sad fact, however, and we have to draw the conclusion, at least I do, that we obviously regard animals as a higher species than humans at the moment with all the wars and killings going on in our world of humans.  Our world is not in balance.

I wonder if we should not consult the book ‘The Animal Farm’ by George Orwell in which Old Boar, the leader, calls the humans parasites and animals take over management.

We wish you a very peaceful Christmas time and the hope and trust that next year will be better…..

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2015

Heidi and Kalle Trautmann