What animals teach us about Christmas

Alwyn Lau
·4-min read
Alwyn Lau
Alwyn Lau

DEC 25 — Today, Christians around the world celebrate the birth of Jesus. The story goes that Mary, Jesus’ mum, was heavily pregnant yet had to travel the 111 kilometres from her hometown Nazareth to her husband Joseph’s kampung in Bethlehem.

That’s roughly the distance from Petaling Jaya to Port Dickson. On a donkey.

In the end, Jesus was born in a manger as all the inns were full. The common Christmas theme is this represents humility.

I don’t disagree, but I think there’s another simpler reason: God loves animals and wanted them around when his son was born.

Christmas is for animals, too.

What animals teach us

Newflash: Animals are special.

Want to learn about happiness? Look at dogs.

I leave my house for two hours, I come back, and my dog acts like his football team has won the Champions League. The amazing thing is that he does this every single day.

In human relationships, such joy and cheer on a regular basis is about as real as vegetarian sharks’ fin soup.

Want to overcome depression? You can do worse than observing your hamster. He lives in a cage but he loves his food, and adores his running. And he doesn’t give a crap if you stare at him and point.

Compared to them, we’re total losers. We earn RM5,000 a month? We curse that we don’t have RM6,000. We earn RM60,000 a month? We scheme to earn RM100,000. And each time we can’t achieve our oh-so-precious goals, our happiness evaporates.

Want a tip to reduce stress? Learn from your cat. They spend 90 per cent of their time lying around and 10 per cent ripping the heads off mice. “Oh that was your sofa I just scratched? Sue me.”

Like most animals, cats consider simply “being there” a great thing. Breathing is a luxury to be grateful for every half-second. And makan time? Heaven by the bowl-ful.

I can just hear the birds whispering to each other What’s WRONG with these two-legged apes, with their obsession with their bodies, their cars and their hair-dos?

Every other day you get a cool story on Facebook about a dog doing some stuff that makes you wonder if they’re angels walking on four-legs. Rescue a baby, save a blind man from being mowed down by a bus, lie next to his master’s grave. If Christmas is at all about that crazy lil’ thing called love, then animals embody it in a one-of-a-kind way.

What animals can never do

What do we most despise about the corporate world? Obviously it’s the lies and the deception. Guess what, this is exactly what the animal world can never be guilty of.

Horses can’t pretend to be tired because they want to go lepak-ing with their other vaping pals. Birds aren’t scheming to destroy your reputation by blaming a messed-up budget on you. And your fish aren’t gossiping about what a lousy aquarium keeper you are because of all the shitty hardened sand they’re forced to eat.

Absolute humility. What you see is what you get. No deception, no scheming. Look into the eyes of your dog or your cat (or the bird in the tree) and you’ll never see what’s so sadly prevalent in many human eyes: judgment, mockery and scheming.

Oh, there’s something else animals can’t do very well: Defend themselves. Watch “Meet Your Meat” on YouTube and there’s a good chance you’ll become a vegetarian. Humans are the most cruel slaughterers in the universe. Animals are by far the worst victims — and the most innocent.

If you know the Christmas story, you’ll also be aware that Mary’s boy-child would, about 30 years later, go willingly to his death. The Bible describes his sacrifice for humanity as being “like a lamb led to the slaughter.” There was something tenderly and peacefully animal-like about the Christian story of salvation which, again, suggests something special about our non-human creature friends on earth.

Animals can be a reminder of how Nature can be mankind’s friend. They exude beauty, openness, care, a being-there-ness. They remind us that maybe our planet isn’t such a dangerous place after all.

Earth may even be filled with so much joy that — guess what — heaven and Nature break out in song.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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