Friday, October 27, 2017

A Dearly Departed Rat


I just found a dead rat lying in my backyard. I don't know how long it had been there or what killed it. There are many cats in my neighborhood. Yet, the rat didn't show clear signs of trauma. But then I didn't look too closely. I've always been squeamish about handling animal corpses or scrutinizing their posthumous decomposition.

Yet, I've also felt a lifelong love for animals, even rats. Maybe I wouldn't love rats if my house were infested with them or their fleas were causing a plague epidemic. But I don't think it is, and there's no plague in my neck of the woods, even though rats undoubtedly roam my suburban neighborhood, drawn here by accessible food and shelter.

For many people, the only good rat may well be a dead rat. But the way I see it, rats are relatively intelligent, sentient beings who probably feel emotions not so unlike what we feel and who, like us, want to be happy or at least free from suffering, and to go on living. I understand that rats, at least the specially bred variety, can even make good pets. I regard them as my distant cousins and, in more "spiritual" terms, manifestations of the Divine.

So, when I see a dead rat lying in my backyard, I feel tender sadness for it and hope that it didn't suffer much when it died and that if there's a heaven for rats, it is there, and, if there is no rat heaven, it resides in painless oblivion.

May all us humans be so fortunate when we die.

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