In Praise of Animals
A Treasury of Poems, Quotations, and Readings to Celebrate the Animal Kingdom
Our relationships with animals are varied. They inspire us and visit us with beauty. They do our work and provide us food. They live in our homes and dispel our loneliness. We grieve their deaths. The poems, quotations, and readings of this collection speak to some of the vital lives that make up the animal world to which we belong.
Animals, including human beings, are part of a long and grand evolutionary scheme of branching diversity. From the intricate grasshopper to the majestic elephant, every creature has a unique destiny and gives particular meaning to the cosmos. Each species has its niche and exists for its own sake, bound together in Nature’s interdependent web of existence. We rejoice in the richness and complexity of life on this earth and confess with shame our role in the extinction of species.
We are just beginning to understand the inherent dignity and worth of other creatures beyond any utility they may have for us. Progressive thinkers—philosophers, theologians, ethicists, scientists, and naturalists—have begun to consider animal rights as a moral imperative.
Dogs and cats in particular have special places in human imaginations and hearts. For millennia they have provided intimate links to life’s larger meaning. They often awaken our love, as they give us companionship.
I hope this collection will stimulate a larger understanding of the relationships among animals and human beings. I further hope such an understanding will promote a more ethical consciousness relative to our animal brothers and sisters. We are fellow sojourners in a great adventure—the chain of life—that is billions of years long.
Wishing you companionship and inspiration,