Over the past few years I have discovered some very interesting parallels between humans and animals. How humans relate to themselves and others in a sometimes derogatory manner seems to have a flow on effect when humans whether intentional or not are thoughtless in their intention and actions toward animals. For example, I have seen animal distress come from too much human interaction(over stimulation), not allowing animals to be who they truly are, and of their species. Being physically cruel to a defenceless animal or insensitive emotional intimidation which is what I would like to discuss in this blog.
It was the end of the final day of the Introductory workshop, ‘The Silent Language of Animals’ at the local zoo. We had so much fun during our conversations with some of the wild animals, including a tiny marsupial mouse(Dunnart) and then the giant of all reptiles a two metre crocodile. Quite a contrast in size but certainly not in intelligence. The students were blown away with the amazing comments and information they were given by these two different species.
Shocked rather than excited would be a more accurate description of Darren one of my students, and the look on my face as he asked his question about a particular conversation he had with an animal. Earlier in the day we had taken a break for lunch where the students had the opportunity to look around the zoo and to practice the communication skills they had learnt.
Darren had walked around for quite awhile before deciding to eat his lunch sitting on a bench near a large pond. It was a relatively quiet spot where he could enjoy the tranquility of his surroundings. When he had finished his lunch he leaned over to look into the pond. As he did he noticed several turtles either lying in the sand on the bank or bobbing their heads just above the water.
While his mind was in quiet stillness, one of the turtles said to him ”Does my head look like a penis?” This left Darren speechless as it would anyone, I am sure. The first thing that crossed his mind was did he hear that right. The second being the obvious, why on earth would a turtle ask that question in the first place.
He looked back into the pond and with his mind said “Could you repeat that question?” Even though trying to remain focused, he found it very difficult to believe he had heard a turtle asking that question. Again the turtle asked ”Does my head look like a penis?” Okay it has been confirmed thought Darren. Now how do I answer that?
I was astonished that Darren was able to wait until the end of the day to diffuse his confusion. Darren was the type of person who always would say exactly what he was thinking. Never backward in asking questions or finding out the information he most wanted to know.
Most of the participants had left to go home except for Simone who was chatting to my husband Peter, Max my close friend and myself. It was then that Darren approached our group and asked if he could have a word with me. He then explained what had happened with his turtle encounter, and asked “Why would a turtle ask this question and why did the turtle specifically ask me?”
As this was the first time I had been asked this question in all my years of experience I did have a startled look on my face, as did the others. Peter and Max’s expression turned to a rolling of the eyes with the look – I can’t wait to hear how you are going to answer this one! So I suggested we all walk down to the turtle pond to clarify this issue.
Darren led the way and took us to the area in question. He noted he wasn’t sure which turtle had been the one that was communicating with him. I told him that didn’t matter as I would simply address all of them. My communication to the turtles was firstly why they had asked this question. The turtles reply was swift and in the form of a video in my mind.
They showed me a group of teenage boys leaning over the railings of the pond laughing and joking. One boy was saying to the others. That turtle’s head looks just like a penis. In fact this should be called penis pond. They all began laughing louder and pointing at the turtles. The turtles then showed me a group of young men showing similar behaviour. It all began to make sense. The turtles then asked “Are we ugly or offensive? We always see people smile and get excited when they see many of the other animals like lions, cheetah, and the orangutans. Most people either ignore or ridicule us.”
Wow I felt a degree of shame and intense compassion for these turtles. I had to, at the very least make sure we cleared up this immediate problem for them.
Darren then enquired how would they know what a penis was? I explained that these human males were making verbal comments but also visualising their intent. The turtles realised they were offensive comments from that intent and the energy of their words. Darren began to understand the enormity of what these boys and men had created. Perhaps unintentionally but also mindless on their behalf. It had left these turtles questioning their own relevance and identity.
Darren still didn’t understand why him! Well it is very simple really. These turtles finally found someone who could hear them. It is not that they haven’t asked before it is that they haven’t been heard before. Secondly it was males that made these comments so the turtles felt it was only males that would be able to answer it. I asked Simone how she would have reacted, and she replied she would have been shocked and at al loss to answer. Darren felt quite quite comfortable with the subject matter, only that it was asked by turtles.
Darren could now see that the turtles felt more at ease asking a male and that it was a bonus he could communicate with them. Now the pressing question was had Darren answered them. Darren replied of course otherwise that would be rude. I told them “No mate you look great!”
An amazing feeling of satisfaction come over me. What a relief Darren has been to these turtles. How long had they had to bottle this up with no-one to ask. The intense realisation of how valuable these workshops are, to be able reconnect and restore a respectful human/animal bond using this communication was very apparent.
Thousands of people around the world are being bullied each and every day, either in person, or via social media/technology. Victims being placed in a thoughtless cruel spotlight because they either don’t appear to conform, the offenders are jealous or want power over their victim or worst of all because these people have nothing worthwhile to fill their time. Lives are cut short or daily torment prevails unmercilessly, as this bullying continues. The animals are showing us what it feels like to not have a voice, like many of these people and how unaware we are of the damage that can be caused.
Spare a thought for those turtles next time you are at the zoo. Take time to see what amazing creatures they are, and their importance to the sustainablility of many of the other animals on this planet. Try not to discriminate because of looks, personality or opinion whether animal or human.
As the old saying goes “If you have nothing nice to say then don’t say anything at all.”