I recently read an article about an elephant that died after being mutilated by a group of people, and it reminded me of how cruel we are towards animals.
I notice, in Indonesia, children are not brought up to respect animals. During my older brother’s primary school days, people used to sell snails with cardboard toy truck attached to their shells in front of his school. During my primary school days — even until now — there were people selling chicks with neon colored feathers. These chicks often died within a couple of days.
The condition is even worse for orangutans in Borneo. They have been suffering from deforestation, and now they have to deal with people with savage brains who would beat them up, mutilate them, even burn them alive.
Humans often think that animals are worth nothing, they can’t feel, they have no soul, they aren’t as intelligent and they are in a lower position compared to human beings; when in fact, animals do feel pain and emotions.
It disturbs me to see the way people treat street animals, they kick cats and throw rocks at them. Even sometimes pet owners don't deserve to own pets. I remember walking out of my house and seeing a big dog eating off our rubbish bin. It was a great dane that would have been a beautiful dog if fed properly by its owner.
He was only skin and bones, and often would run away from his house to hunt for food on his own. As soon as I found out which family that dog belonged to, an angry little me came knocking on their door and demanded that their dog to be fed regularly. After all, what’s the point of having a pet when you don’t look after it?
I also notice that several religious teachings say that some animals are 'haram', but I think most people misunderstood the word. Just because they are 'haram' to consume doesn't mean that we shouldn’t care about them at all.
We need to find a way how to re-educate Indonesia’s younger generation to start loving and respecting animals. Even scientists and animal lovers from overseas pay more attention to our animals, and that is very embarrassing.
Recently, an online petition to save the Surabaya Zoo was created and thousands of people signed to support it. A photograph of a skinny tiger in that zoo named Melanie was spread all over the social media. It was heartbreaking and it shows how selfish us humans are.
Humans and animals walk this earth together. It is our responsibility to protect this nature we are surrounded in. Instead, we care too much about money, we destroy nature ruthlessly without thinking of the damage. It reminded me of an old native American saying, “Only when the last tree has been cut down, the last fish been caught, and the last stream poisoned, we will realize we cannot eat money.”
Sometimes, when I see the way we treat animals, I realize that we are the savages, we are the cruelest of all animals.
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated” - Gandhi