Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Rats and hedgehogs

I was listening this morning to the radio. One of the items concerned one of the Western Isles, being over-run by rats. The rats were not lurking in the corners of people’s houses or anything. They were decimating the local bird population, by raiding nests and eating eggs. One particular species of bird was on the brink of extinction. Traps were being laid all over the place that even involved some people absailing down the sides of cliffs. No details were given of the kind of traps being set, but they didn’t sound rat-friendly.

Not so long ago, on another island, the same decimation of the bird population was taking place. This time the culprits were hedgehogs. They were committing exactly the same crime as the rats – eating the birds’ eggs and reducing certain species of birds to near extinction. Talk of “culling” the hedgehogs was enough to rouse the animal right campaigners out of their chairs. It is not as if they are a species that are endangered, but all of a sudden people were being called on to rescue the hedgehogs and have them packed off to the mainland where they could be re-homed.

I don’t see anyone crying out on behalf of the rats! What makes us fight for the hedgehogs, but ignore the rats? Neither species is close to extinction! I know that rats can carry disease, but hedgehogs probably carry their fair share of stuff, including fleas.

I collect hedgehogs – not real ones – fluffy ones, ceramic ones, glass ones – I have all sorts of hedgehogs. Birthday cards and Christmas cards that friends send are littered with hedgehogs! I like hedgehogs and I like the idea of rescuing them. I once encouraged a fourth year pupil to rescue a hedgehog that was being picked on by an ugly big seagull!

Why don’t I have the same passion for rats?

It speaks to me of the value that we assign things. Rats are not assigned value, hedgehogs are. You don’t protect things that have no value to you. You don’t fight for things that have no value to you.

God values people. He values ALL people. It is not just the good people He values, but the bad people too. It is not the rich people He values, but the poor ones too. It is not just the Christians he values, but the Muslims, the Hindus, the Sikhs and people of every philosophical stance you can come up with. God assigns equal value to people. He doesn’t have his favorites!

Until we see people the way that God sees them – as infinitely precious – and value them the way that He does, we will not fight for them the way that God intends us to!


Bonnie Calhoun said...

Amen, sister...God is no respecter of persons. We are all equal in His eyes. Isn't that awesome! It's not like when we were kids and a sibling yelled, "Mom loves you best!" God loves us ALL best!

Shelley said...

My brother used to have 3 pet hedgehogs but they have since died (I guess in captivity they only live 2-3 years). I must say they are some cute!

I think no one fights for rats the way they do hedgehogs or other creatures because of the stigma they have received over the last several hundred years...