We humans like to flaunt our superiority over other animals. But not only do I think this superiority is a myth, I also think there’s a lot we could learn from our fellow earthlings.
Dolphins are a great example. As I mentioned in the post linked above, they have even more developed brains than we do. This may mean they are more intelligent than us, even by our own standards.
One of the most noteworthy behaviours displayed by dolphins is their playfulness – even as adults, they engage in behaviours like blowing bubbles for fun. They’ve also been observed playing with whales and other species of dolphin.
Though human children are very playful, we tend to lose this as we get older. This is a shame. We could all benefit from taking ourselves less seriously from time to time. Stress and mental health issues are becoming increasingly common in our high-pressure society. Taking more time out for playfulness and creativity could help to alleviate this. I’ve personally found that playing with children really helps to boost my mood.
Cooperation is another admirable trait that dolphins show. They help each other hunt, and they’ve also been known to help humans fish. Dolphins show compassion and empathy, helping others who are wounded. Again, this behaviour crosses the species barrier – there are many examples of dolphins helping humans out in times of trouble.
This makes it particularly shameful that we treat dolphins – and other animals – the way we do. We commonly catch dolphins in fishing nets and discard them as ‘bycatch’. We also brutally slaughter them for food. In fact, we needlessly slaughter billions of animals every year, often confining them in miserable conditions for the entirety of their short lives beforehand. We treat other creatures as commodities, exploiting or discarding them at will. Even worse, we are destroying the planet in the process.
There is no other creature which has as little regard for its environment as humans do. Other animals take only what they need from the earth, allowing ecosystems to remain in balance. But we are greedy, taking far more than our fair share.
Animals also beat us when it comes to living in the present. We tend to worry a lot about the past or the future, which breeds stress and anxiety. Generally, they think backwards or forwards only when necessary.
Then there is the love and loyalty shown towards us by many animals, such as dogs. Again, we could learn from this. We may love and care for our companion animals, but all too often, we don’t extend this to other creatures. Many farmers claim to love their animals, but if this is so, then sending them to the slaughterhouse is the ultimate betrayal.
We ought to learn to show more compassion to other creatures – after all, farm animals are capable of just as much love as dogs are. Perhaps then we would learn to treat each other (and the planet) with compassion too.