By Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci -- The AV, January 1994
When I talk with children they know what I mean. Most of them have not yet become indoctrinated with the virus of superstition: Wild animals are dangerous; wild animals are varmints or game; toads are ugly; snakes are slimy. Children are ready to love every living creature, and to take action on all fronts to see that justice is done. Children gladly cooperate in projects to help animals. What makes them change?
One humane education teacher told me sadly, "We can't have a group of humane minded children until we have humane teachers." If the teacher (or parent) is not humane, he soon inoculates the young with his own illness, symptoms of which are a deviation from the children's natural compassion and a hardening of the arteries of love. Wounds occur, and are covered over by scabs of hostility or indifference, under which the infection spreads throughout the whole character.
Humane education is the tried and true remedy, but prevention is better than cure. Let's not leave the work to professional teachers alone. Let's volunteer with our local humane society to help reach more people; offer our services to schools and churches; and write letters to newspapers to alert readers to animal problems and solutions. Let's get a supply of the humane education materials now collecting dust on shelves, and see that it circulates in our particular area.
The question most asked of me by children is: What can I do to help?
I don't know the answer. The above suggestions are ideas that can be put into action with each person's unique talents and individual flare. What must be done is dictated by time and materials available and by the specific situation in which one finds one's self. I do know that there is momentum in action, and if we make a first step, others will follow, and a path will open up.
Humane education is a work that must be done in faith, and carried forward with no thought of reward save the work itself. It is challenge of the highest order, and meeting challenge head-on is one of life's greatest delights.
There is heartache, but it does not compare with the heartache of doing nothing. There are more failures than successes, but still we will try -- and try again. We will work on, though all seems hopeless. And once in a while someone whose life we have influenced without even knowing it will rise up and call us blessed.
What can we do?
All that we can... on and on and on. No person can do more.
Charlotte Baker Montgomery, author of children's books and a leader in humane education work in her area of Texas, says: "The more I see of life, the more I realize the value of persistence. It is the person who keeps hammering away who wins. You see this in politics. The lobbies for race tracks and liquor-by-the-drink keep coming back after every defeat, exerting constant pressure, and finally they open a crack, and they keep on pushing, the crack widens, and at last the public begins to wonder, 'Well, what's so bad about it, anyway?' It works the same for better causes, too."