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Why Do People Abuse Donkeys?
Written By Mark S. Meyers
In a donkey rescue organization two questions pop up in every conversation, “Why do donkeys need rescuing?” and “Why do people abuse donkeys”. The first question is usually answered by an introduction to the 100 plus donkeys at our rescue, the second question however has always been a tough one to answer. Who can truly understand the human mind? How can we broad brush everyone? What separates those who handle animals roughly from those who inflict abuse? How can one truly explain the motivation behind abuse?
The answer came one Saturday afternoon while giving a tour of the rescue to a church group. The kids and parents alike genuinely enjoyed the donkeys. They saw how lovable and sweet these animals were. They remarked on how gentle and quiet they were with even the smallest of the children. They saw first hand the fear and aggression in the abused donkeys. They saw the scars, the split ears, the lumps, the bruises and the cut noses. They were able, for the first time in many of their lives, to see firsthand the result of cruelty that no animal should ever have to face.
After the tour, the Pastor made the remark that the donkey was the only mammal in the bible to be given the power of human speech. I was amazed! I had heard the stories in Sunday School, even read the bible a time or two, but how could I have forgotten this? Embarrassed, I asked to know more. I thought that this might make an interesting addition to my tours, lectures and arguments. What I heard went much deeper than an amusing anecdote, what I heard answered the age old question, “Why do people abuse donkeys?”
Balaam, a prophet of God, was employed by some local rich folks to speak out against Israel. He saddled up his donkey and began a trip to Kirjathhuzoth. God was really upset that Balaam was going against his wishes and sent an angel to stop him. As the man and donkey traveled down a road the donkey saw the angel in front of her and turned away. Angry at her apparent misbehavior, Balaam whipped the donkey. Again the pair traveled on until the donkey once again saw the angel blocking the road. Again she turned away and again she was whipped.
Once their journey resumed, the angel blocked a narrow passage between two walls and as the donkey turned away, she crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall. As the donkey could not get away from the angel, she simply laid down. Balaam was outraged by this transgression and whipped the donkey without mercy.
As God saw this taking place, He gave the donkey the gift of speech. The donkey said, in only the way a donkey could, “Why are you beating me? Am I not the same donkey that has been faithful to you all of these years? Am I not the same donkey who has always taken you wherever you wanted to go? Why are you beating me?”
And Balaam replied, “Because you made me look stupid”
The story goes on the say that the angel appeared to Balaam and explained to him that if the donkey had not turned away he would have killed him. And Balaam saw the error of his ways and they all lived happily ever after.
I had the answer! I was amazed at its simplicity and honesty. I had always searched for a deeper meaning; perhaps a genetic deficiency, or eating paint chips as children, or too much fast food and television. But it was none of these things. It was something simpler, something that weak people have no tolerance for and ignorant people lash out at. The one thing that attacks us as the “superior” being.
Question: Why do people abuse donkey?
Answer: Because they make us look stupid.
No other animal that I have ever come across has the ability to take all of your power away like a donkey. In a parade one of my donkeys stopped and would not move. On a pack trip 2 of my donkeys decided that it was time to stop after just 2 hours of hiking. In both cases I was powerless. They had all of the control over the situation. If a donkey makes a decision, he will stand by it until the end. The only way to get him to change his decision is to make him think that he has had a better idea.
You cannot force a donkey to do anything. Beating will only make him more persistent. More persistent leads to more frustration on the part of the abuser. More frustration leads to more beating. You can beat most animals into doing anything including killing themselves. You cannot do this to a donkey. Simply stated, they make us look stupid.
Eventually, we resumed the parade route as well as the pack trip. In both cases, the donkeys simply had made a new decision and all was well in their world once again. As I enjoy these particular traits of my donkeys, I never get frustrated with it. Many times I take the opportunity to sit back and reflect on what may lie in my path (life) that may be blocking my way.