Character Chats

How do we show compassion for animals?

How do we show compassion for our animals, and how do we show compassion for animals in the environment?

Our social, emotional learning program here at True Balance Karate is called True Character. Every month we have a word of the month. This month, we’re talking about compassion.

Compassion means that when you feel bad, sad, or mad, I want to help you feel better.

We started out by talking about our empathy — how we have to understand how somebody is feeling and how we use that empathy to read their facial expressions and their body language to see how they feel.

Then we talked about how we show compassion for somebody who is scared or in need of help.

Next, we’re going to talk about compassion for animals, for our non-human friends in our life that we love very much.

What are pets feeling?

Compassion is a really important emotion with having a pet.

With having a pet, how can we tell how they’re feeling?

Dogs show it really well, don’t they? Dogs wag the tail. Their ears perk up. Sometimes their whole body shows it.

My dog likes to talk to me, to tell us how he’s feeling. When we come home, my dog starts howling and kind of tells us all about his day. He runs up to everybody else in the house and starts howling at them, telling them mom and dad are home. They really show that.

We can see that with a cat too. A cat has facial expressions. They have their way of showing it. They come up to you, rub on you. They meow.

We can tell how our fish are feeling. They’re swimming, happily and upright. When they stop swimming and they’re upside down, they’re not feeling too well.

So we can read what our animals are feeling and how they’re doing.

Compassion is important with animals.

How to show compassion for pets

How would you feel if you didn’t have enough food? We have to show that compassion and responsibility to make sure we feed our animals enough.

How would you feel if somebody locked the door to the bathroom and didn’t let you in when you really had to go? So we want to show that compassion for our animals and make sure they can go to the bathroom, whether it’s the kitty litter box or letting them outside.

I guess fish don’t really have a problem with that one.

How would you feel if somebody was being mean to you? Well, our animals will feel that same way. So we want to make sure we show compassion for them. Show them love and caring and attention. Really take that action that lets them know that we care and that lets them know they’re loved.

And you know the secret with our pets? When you show pets that compassion, when you show them you care by taking care of them, they show you that love back.

Even my fish, when I walk up to the tank, happily come up to the top of the tank because they know I’m going to be the one that’s feeding them. When I start taking the lids off and it’s time to clean, they then get out of the way, “Oh, it’s not food time. The boss is going to make sure we got clean water to breathe.” Even they understand that I’m showing compassion and helping them out.

Show compassion for all animals

We can also show compassion for the animals out in our world, in our environment.

It’s really important to understand and show compassion for the whole world around you. It helps out other animals we care about and it helps us out at the same time.

We want to make sure that our birds, our fish, our wild animals all have a clean, safe place to live and to enjoy themselves.

I like to fish myself and you know what? Clean waters make happy fish, and more fish to have. Clean fish then. Yes, I eat some of the fish I catch. We have clean fish to eat as well when they have a clean environment.

We also live in this world. When we don’t have a clean world for the animals to live in, we also don’t have a clean environment for ourselves. We wind up having a bad world for us to live in. We can’t block the world out just with our doors.

There are some actions we can take. Remember, compassion isn’t just empathy.

Being responsible with trash

It’s not just feeling bad for the animals. Some of the actions we can take include to recycle. We can try to recycle our things so we’re not always using up new things.

We want to make sure that our waste goes in the spot it needs to be and if it can, it can be recycled. It’s kind of sad to be out in a beautiful lake and see a plastic bag floating by or to see a fish getting caught in it?

We can reduce what we use. So why don’t we actually think about it and not be too wasteful so we’re not using up all the resources around us.

We can reuse what we use. I remember my grandpa was really good at that. His garage was always filled with jars from other things like baby food that he filled with the extra stuff from the garage and the basement and the workroom — all around. He would always reuse. “Got done with a box for this, I could use it for that. I don’t need to buy a separate box for it.”

When you recycle, reduce and reuse, you really help the environment and the world around you.

When you show your compassion, remember compassion is empathy plus action, for the animals, birds, lakes, rivers, mountains, streams, and especially all of us. You give all of us a great place to live now and in the future.

So our word of the month is compassion. And again, remember compassion isn’t just feeling about something, it’s doing something about it too.

Thanks and we’ll see you on the mat.
–Master Helsdon