But I am a worm, and not human; scorned by others, and despised by the people. – Psalm 22:6 (NRSV)
Animal lover here with a serious gripe. Why do we insist on dragging innocent creatures into our insults? When we put someone down we might call them bullheaded or stubborn as a mule. To drive our point deeper we compare them to a pig or a [female dog]. What did our animal friends do to deserve this? Shrews, dodos, jackasses, tomcats…Even the psalmist joins in by equating their own worthlessness to a worm. I bet if a snake or a weasel overheard us slinging beastly abuses, they might rename humankind to humanrude.
For that matter, why do we waste our creative language skills on tearing each other and ourselves down at all? Instead of feeling like the top dog, more often than not, it makes me feel all alone (and not in the alluring but factually incorrect “lone wolf” kind of alone.)
I wonder what would happen if we put that same effort into crafting creative compliments. What if we connected the beauty and brilliance we see in animals and the rest of God’s creation with our observations of the people around us?
For the friend who excels at bringing people together, I might say she is as social as a vulture, famously known for their complex social systems and tightly bonded families. For the coworker that doesn’t quit until the project is finished, I might proclaim that they have the stamina of a mule. Perhaps when I am discouraged, I can pray to God to make me as resilient as the mighty earthworm, a species that has survived for 500 million years.
May we do better by caring for God’s creation by bringing care and compassion into our words.
Dear God, help us put the kin back in animal kingdom. Amen.