Indigenous wisdom has always told us that animals are conscious. Now, science is becoming aware of this, as well. At Cambridge University in the UK, a document called the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness was signed in July 2012 by prominent cognitive scientists, neuropharmacologists, neurophysiologists, neuroanatomists, and computational neuroscientists. The document says that animals, particularly mammals and birds, are conscious and aware, and that they experience emotions just as humans do. The scientists also say that animals may be capable of different states of consciousness than humans because of their development. Elephants cooperate to solve problems. Chimpanzees teach their young to make tools. Dolphins blow rings in the water and play with them.
Animals may not talk to us, but they definitely talk to each other. It appears that there is plenty of mental activity among non-human animals. It just isn’t always in the same frequency as ours. Just because we can’t understand their thoughts, that doesn’t mean animals can’t or don’t think. In an article entitled “One of Us,” John Jeremiah Sullivan wrote, “The animal kingdom is symphonic with mental activity, and of its millions of wavelengths, we’re born able to understand the minutest sliver. The least we can do is have a proper respect for our ignorance.”
It’s obviously going to take a while for human beings to get to the point of accepting this information, and it’s too bad that so many human beings feel that something is true only after science has validated it. People of indigenous cultures have been treating animals with respect for eons. When Sioux Indians say Mitakuye Oyasin, which means, “All my relations,” they are talking about all life, not just human beings. It is an expression of the concept that all life forms are related. When people of other cultures begin to embrace this idea, one hopes that human beings will stop torturing and mistreating non-human animals, and that all God’s creatures will finally get the respect that they deserve. 🙂