compassion needed

“I think someone has been killing possums lately. For the last few years that grapevine on my fence was eaten up by possums, but now it’s lush and full of fruit.” A neighbour said these disturbing words to me last week.

I do think that community hatred for possums has escalated into open war. If this is so, possums don’t stand a chance.

Possums are a legally protected species, with penalties for anyone caught killing them. But who is to know whether a death is accidental or not, if a nocturnal creature is quietly poisoned in the shadows of suburban streetlights?

The Dalai Lama has been visiting Melbourne for the World Parliament of Religions. His parting words were that only values like compassion could solve the world’s moral crisis.

Compassion and empathy are mirror images of the other. Could we not develop understanding, compassion and empathy for the wildlife that is rapidly disappearing in our suburban gardens?

Possums, birds, reptiles and insects don’t share fairly with us, who plant, tend and own the vine or tree or plants on which they feast. But let us remember that they don’t have our option of topping up at the supermarket. They are hungry not greedy. For them food is a matter of survival.


  1. Well said, Catmint. I find that most people, especially people who grew up in cities, do not have an affinity for nature or her creatures. They want everything to be neat and tidy, and it is not!

  2. I think you are so right....we do need to remember to exercise compassion to those creatures that share our environment instead of only viewing them as pests.

  3. You make a great point. I do tangle with some pests, but there are no animals thus far that have disturbed me to the point of having to hurt them. Deter I can reconcile in my head, but that's about it.

  4. True, true. We all need a little more compassion. What kind of birdhouse is that in the bottom picture?

  5. Thank you Catmint, for reminding us of what is most important. We have possums here that come right up to the sliding glass doors and look in. They are kind of scary looking, but we let them be, along with everything else. Well we did once give a snake a poke with a pole while it was raiding a bird's next. All life is sacred.

  6. Dear cyberfriends, thanks for your comments. They did make me think, and I think it is not so simple. Wendy mentions pests, and Frances says all life is sacred.
    I can tolerate any animals or insects when they are not in plague proportions. I felt no compassion towards the vine weevils that were eating my garden a few years ago. And I was happy to get a pest company in to destroy the wasp nest in the compost. There is a food chain and we are generally at the top of it. Cheers, catmint

  7. I could not imagine a garden without wildlife. I loathe those tidy suburban gardens where not a leave is allowed to fall on the ground. Where all the bushes are cut into shapes and no natural growth is allowed. Trees with leaves are not welcome either as they fall into swimming pools which are so important even when the beach is only 10 minutes away. I wonder when people will learn to live with the creatures who have a right to life as well.


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