Saturday, November 06, 2004

Horse Ethics:
Moral Values Revisited

I have watched horses.  When a horse first becomes active in the morning, after it is done sleeping, or whatever it is that horses do at night, the first thing it thinks is: "I think I'll eat some hay today."

About ten months ago, my wife and I both were injured, such that we could not take care of our horses.  The vet recommended a lady who would come and take care of the feeding, etc. 

It worked out pretty well.  She had two working legs and two working arms, and she needed the money; neither of us had a full complement of working limbs, but we had money.  I won't mention real names here, but let's call the horse feeding person "Abigail."

She turned out to be a nice human being.  Sometimes she would come up and have coffee.  After a couple of weeks, I was able to return to work, but my wife was still stuck at home.  One day, I came home from work, and my wife said that she though she and Abigail might become friends.  The thing is, Abigail did not come up for coffee very often after that. 

A couple of months ago, my wife told me of a couple of conversations she had had with Abigail.  Shortly after they first met, over coffee, Abigail mentioned that she was a Christian, and that moral values were very important to her.  My wife responded by saying that she is an atheist, but moral values are important to her, too.  She went on to explain that she believes strongly in honesty, faithfulness, fairness, helping the disadvantaged, etc.  Abigail was perplexed.  She said something like 'But you must believe in god if you have values like that.'

They did not turn out to be friends, really.  After a few weeks, Abigail came up to the house a little more often.  Eventually they starting having coffee together again.  They talked some about social issues.  As my wife started to heal somewhat, the two of them started doing some work in the barns, or with the horses, together.  Working and talking together like that, Abigail started to get a sense of my wife's character.

A few weeks ago, Abigail said, seemingly out of nowhere, "You know, you really are a good person."

Horses do not really have a developed sense of ethics.  They just want to eat hay, stay away from the wolves, and make more horses.  I think, though, that horses could teach us a thing or two. 

Or maybe, possibly, if people of different political perspectives would spend some time, mucking out barns together, they might learn to respect one another.