by Betsy Thompson
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When I was a child, a Nabisco product called Animal Crackers got my attention quickly. I loved how the crackers tasted, felt, and looked, and I loved the package they came in. Each box was a gift itself whether full of crackers or not. The characteristics of each different animal stirred my imagination. When I reached for one, I never knew the creative image I’d face: elephant, tiger, or kangaroo. I even considered their habitats, and how they might be different. I didn’t care if the cookies were broken or chipped; I was hooked on the total package.
Have we forgotten how diverse and appealing we are in the human species as well? We delight in the fish, the birds, and the beasts in their wonderful uniqueness, so why can’t we do the same for ourselves? Aren’t we unique in our colors, shapes, and sounds, too? And don’t we have individual habitats that suit our growth while here?
No one says to the elephant, why aren’t you more like a possum? No one says to the rhinoceros, why don’t you sound like a bird? No one says to the groundhog, why can’t you run like a horse?
We all have hearts that beat and bodies that function, with a brain that reacts to stimuli. When the animal is attacked, it does what it can to survive. Why are we surprised when humans do the same? Animals follow their instincts but so do we. Don’t we have the right to be ourselves in whatever color, shape, or habitat we prefer?
The world is shrinking. Intercontinental communications, a transportation system to anywhere, and a growing population with no end in sight make isolation impossible. How are we to live harmoniously without acceptance? Are we headed in that direction? Yes and no. Yes, because more people are working for peace. And no, because so many have forgotten where it sources.
It won’t come from highlighting negative differences. It won’t come from making someone right and another wrong. It won’t come from making someone good and another bad. It won’t come from shifting the blame to anyone else. Peace cannot be lived in the big picture until it is lived in the small picture. And the small picture is each individual heart.
Are you living at peace with the people around you? Are you taking responsibility and leaving blame behind? Are you ignoring labels of good and bad and finding goodness in all? Are you tolerant of other beliefs and customs, even though they are different from yours?
The goal is not to have the right religion, the right beliefs or the right nationality. The goal is to love the ones we have and find the offering they bring us. Until we do, we won’t have a mirror of that on a larger scale.
The animal kingdom works perfectly when left alone to evolve. Yes, there is death in the jungle, but there is also order. There is acceptance and cooperation, at least until man interrupts that balance. And as we interrupt that balance, we interrupt our own.
The animal comes here with a package that suits its purpose while here. And isn’t that we do, too. Don’t we have the talent, heart, and intelligence for what we feel is important?
All the choices around us were made for the same reason: to broaden the heart’s capacity to love. Yes, choices are different, but why does that matter if they work? Would we rather live a world full of clones where blandness caused such stagnancy that fighting became our only stimulation, or would we rather live in a world of individuality where peace is found through appreciation, tolerance, and cooperation?
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