I was waiting for the light to turn green at the Sea View/Shamsheer intersection today and saw a bunch of boys and girls walking out of the McDonald’s compound towards a bus parked on the road. Two or three girls were talking to each other and lagging slightly behind the rest.
I noticed a dog walking a little behind these girls. Its head was down and it seemed to have no interest in the girls or the surroundings. The girls suddenly noticed the dog, jumped and began to run towards the bus. The dog, in turn, got startled and began to run after them.
I don’t know what happened next because the light turned green by then and I had to move. However, the entire scenario which lasted not more than 2-3 minutes brought to my mind a Facebook post I saw yesterday about a donkey that had been brutally beaten allegedly as a political hate crime. The poor animal was beaten so badly that its skull was completely visible and maggots were feasting on the flesh inside while its left eye had been gouged out. It had been kicked violently in the abdomen causing severe abdominal inflammation and respiratory issues and its mouth was full of wounds.
I don’t even want to think what those monsters must have done to give him wounds in his mouth.
The ACF Animal Rescue posted pictures of the poor animal on its Facebook page but they were honestly too painful to look at. It was extremely sensitive of the animal shelter to label the images with a trigger warning for the faint of heart. Sadly, not the same can be said about those who chose to vent out their frustrations, their blind sense of superiority and their utter inhumanity on this poor animal.
Why did the incident outside Sea View McDonald make me think of this poor donkey? Because the reaction of those girls stemmed from the same cause.
Ignorance. Apathy. Insensitivity.
No, those girls did not beat that dog to a pulp (at least not that I know of) although I would not be surprised if them running away from it caused some of the young men who seemed to be a part of the group to throw stones at the dog.
Because that is what we do.
That is who we are.
But I digress. Those girls did not harm the dog, perhaps, but their reaction to suddenly spotting a dog behind them – running in fear – stemmed from the same cause that resulted in someone beating that donkey senseless.
Ignorance. Apathy. Insensitivity.
As a nation, we don’t really care about animals. We shoo them away, deny them food and throw sticks and garbage at them. If you don’t believe me, please take a visit to Karachi Zoo and you’ll see what I mean. As a nation we are taught to be wary of animals, especially strays. Heck, as a nation we are wary of ‘stray’ and homeless people, so what is a poor dog or donkey worth?
It all stems from childhood. If your child pulls a cat’s tail (because he/she really doesn’t know better) and it squeals in pain and runs away, it is your job to teach your child about ‘gentle hands’, about loving those who are weaker than us, about never EVER inflicting pain on another living creature. But many adults, seemingly sane, rational adults, laugh it off saying, “Bacha hai…abhi samajh nahi hai”.
My answer to them is, “Woh bacha hai…aap tou nahi hain.”
Saying he/she is a child is acceptable but to have an adult (literally) laugh it off implies that the adult does not really comprehend violence, nor is he/she capable of actually seeing and feeling another being’s pain. I am not recommending reprimanding a child for a mistake that can truly be made in sheer innocence. But I do think it is absolutely essential to STOP such behavior right there and then, albeit gently, and explain to the child even if they are as young as two-years-old that it is never EVER okay to hurt another living being.
Someone once told me that there is research to show that children who express violence towards animals in their childhood go on to become abusers in their adult years. I would not be surprised if this was true.
A follow up post about the donkey by the ACF Animal Rescue brought me to tears. They wrote about doing everything they can to heal the donkey but that it was still in considerable pain and extremely weak.
They also wrote some heart-wrenching facts about the way animals are treated in our country. Dogs hung from telephone wires on poles; molested and tortured for laughs. For laughs???? Boiling water thrown on cats to see them writhe in pain. Burning the bellies and genitals of donkeys to have them deliver their babies quickly. According to the shelter, many of these absolutely insane acts are committed by children. Children.
Why? The only logical reasons are:
- They have been conditioned to do so and don’t know better.
- They might have been exposed to horrific abuse and violence themselves and the anger and rage comes out by inflicting pain on those weaker than themselves.
The post raised another important point – making empathy and respect for this world and everything living in it a mandate to be incorporated in schools, political manifestoes, social dialogue and all organisations – big or small.
Education is essential for breaking away these shackles of ignorance which lead us to such inhumane acts. If this was a hate crime by a political party, that is scary but not scary enough. What is more frightening is that we live and breathe amongst such people – people who sew the mouths of cats shut with barbed wire; people who insert nails in donkeys’ mouths to make them work harder.
What is even more terrifying is that we live among people who do NOTHING about it.
And what is absolutely petrifying is that we are those people who do nothing about it.
And before you argue that educating people about humanity and compassion is not enough since it will not reach people at the grassroots level; people who are perhaps, more in need of it, let me tell you what someone told me some time ago. The best way to make sure everyone starts acting humanely towards animals in this country is peer-to-peer education. Teach your child how to care for an animal. Then, take your child to the zoo and have him/her tell children there (perhaps, from lesser privileged backgrounds) not to throw stones and garbage at the caged animals. Children understand more than we think.
But we need to start the chain. Take the first step. Thread the needle.
The rest will follow in due time.