Why Does Walt Whitman Want To Live With Animals

Humans and Animals: a Once Unbelievable Friendship

The mere thought of living with animals, other than domesticated ones, used to be an utterly far-fetched idea. But it took one revolutionary writer, Walt Whitman, to realize the potential of such an arrangement. Whitman, despite growing up in a time and place that did not typically associate with animals, went against what was widely accepted and began his endeavours to live with animals.

Whitman described his obsession with animals as a “passionate friendship,” and he showed his love and admiration of them through the linguistic insights that he offered in his writing. Whitman credited animals as the source of his own spiritual experiences, which pushed him to come up with the idea that living with animals was more than just a practice, it was a spiritual joy.

The writer also famously made a subtle attempt to challenge the cultural system of his time, where people still thought of animals as inferior and experienced condescension when talking about animal rights. Whitman had a different approach, though — he focused on creating a mutual relationship of respect between humans and animals. To Whitman, animals represented a form of life, but were also a form of divinity.

Modern scientific research has expanded on this notion and shown that, in some cases, living with animals — either in the same home or in a controlled natural environment — can have immense benefits to human mental health. Studies have found that living with animals can reduce levels of stress and anxiety and can even help in controlling post-traumatic stress disorder. In fact, when most people think of benefits associated with animals, animal-assisted therapy is one of the first things that come to mind.

But the idea of living with animals still remains controversial. Animal welfare activists argue that the environment needs to be controlled to ensure the safety of both the animal and the human. There have been cases of animals living in unnatural and uncomfortable environments and subjected to a whole range of odd activities, such as prolonged exposure to loud noises and intense physical contact. This can be extremely traumatic for an animal.

The views on animal welfare and issues related to living with animals vary greatly; however, what can be unanimously agreed on is that animals should be treated with dignity and respect, just like Walt Whitman had understood and appreciated so long ago.

Humans Learning from Animal Behaviour

Not only can humans live with animals but, as Walt Whitman recognised, animals can also help us grow and learn. Our instinctual human behaviour can be greatly influenced by observing animals, as we naturally take on animal characteristics as our own. Throughout time, animals have been used to symbolize certain ideas and feelings, such as loyalty, strength, and protection.

From wolf packs to bird flocks to chimpanzee communities, animal groups have shown an amazing display of social behaviour and symbiotic relationships. These animals work together in teams, communicate with one another, share resources, and ultimately make decisions collectively — traits that humans can learn from.

After Walt Whitman’s passing, the idea of learning from animal behaviour became even more popular. The concept of zootherapy — involving the use of animals for therapeutic purposes — is also particularly useful for people with behavioural and mental health issues, such as depression. For people who are struggling to understand themselves, finding comfort in the company of animals may be just the thing they need.

We can also observe animals to better understand ourselves. For example, animal behaviour can be used to teach us empathy — an emotion that is essential for successful interpersonal relationships and a healthy, balanced life. The ability to empathize with others is something that can be drawn from studying animal behaviour, as animals are often able to express emotion.

By paying close attention to animals, we can also learn to be more patient — an important life skill that everyone should practise. Taking the time to observe animals and their behaviour can be calming and can help us to appreciate the beauty of nature. In return, we can gain a better understanding of how to lead a balanced and stress-free life.

The Concept of Co-existence with Animals

Living with animals is about more than simply acknowledging them; it is about understanding that humans and animals can exist together harmoniously. Walt Whitman saw this potential and argued in favour of a humane co-existence between humans and animals. He believed that humans and animals have something profound in common: they are both living entities and share this commonality of life.

Living with animals is a concept that goes beyond day-to-day activities. It requires a deep understanding of what it means to be compassionate and respectful. As Whitman’s work has proven, even the most fundamental human-animal relationships have the potential to teach us a lot and foster our understanding of the world around us.

By living with animals, we are better able to appreciate their strength, beauty, and courage; traits that humans can learn from and share. While co-existing with animals may not always be an easy process for us humans, understanding what Whitman wanted us to understand about connecting with them is an important first step.

Modern Interpretations of Whitman’s Co-Existence

These days, more and more people are beginning to look at Walt Whitman’s idea of living with animals as an opportunity for mutual growth and understanding. As society evolves and animal rights become increasingly important, even major organisations like the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) have begun to promote the idea of living with animals in harmony.

The WWF is now working with communities across the globe to create sustainable ecosystems in which humans and animals can live together harmoniously. It also works to educate people on the importance of wildlife conservation and the value of wildlife sanctuaries and reserves.

At the same time, more and more people are beginning to understand the beauty in compassion and the importance of respecting nature and all of its inhabitants. We are seeing this idea of co-existence reflected in schools, beginning with early education curriculums that teach respect and love for animals.

This is inspiring people to think of animal-welfare issues on a global level. We are increasingly seeing more programmes, projects, and initiatives designed to show people the value of living with animals. People are also learning how to care for, protect, and understand our animal counterparts, something that Walt Whitman would surely have appreciated.

Animals Helping Humans in Need

Animals can lend a helping paw to humans in need. Studies have shown the benefits of animals providing therapeutic assistance and comfort to those suffering from mental health conditions, such as depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) — something that Walt Whitman recognised.

In fact, animal-assisted therapy has become increasingly popular in recent years, as it can offer unique and effective benefits to people who are struggling with their mental health. Animals can help reduce anxiety and stress, as well as provide a calming influence on those who are feeling overwhelmed.

Animals are also being used to motivate people to better their physical health, by providing support and companionship during times of physical activity. Studies have found that living with animals can encourage increased physical activity levels, which can help reduce the risk of chronic conditions.

Moreover, animals can offer comfort to those who are dealing with physical disabilities. Service animals can help those with limited mobility to navigate their environment, as well as help monitor their health and provide warning of impending medical issues.

All of this goes to show that animals can provide far more than just companionship. They can help us overcome our struggles and even fill a void left by a lack of human social interaction. Take Walt Whitman — he was able to use his passion for animals and create something revolutionary, even in a time when such a concept was inconceivable.

Animals Contributing to Spiritual Development

The way Walt Whitman chose to live his life with animals was an emotional and spiritual life journey that had both practical and metaphysical aspects. The writer recognised that animals can contribute to the spiritual growth and development of those who are open and willing to learn from them.

Whitman’s lyrical poetry often involved spiritual elements, as animals and nature were often used as metaphors. His work carries themes of respect and admiration in declaring that, by studying animals, humankind can learn lessons of equality, understanding, and compassion.

In the modern era, animals have become integral to many spiritual and religious practices. Animals are seen as symbolic and are often respected in connection with their purpose and energy. We can also use animals to help us better understand our own spirituality, if we are open to learning from and connecting with them.

And while there are many humans who are able to appreciate the value of animals, there are still those who are unable to capture what Walt Whitman saw — an essential connection that ties us all together.

Animals as Teachers – Learning from their Wisdom and Love

Animals can teach us lessons beyond our own imaginings and can help guide us in becoming more aware of our own actions. They can act as role models and help us to understand our connection to the greater universe. Animals teach us patience, understanding, and appreciation for life.

Walt Whitman believed in something special about animals — their unconditional love, intelligence, and resilience. He used his own experiences with animals to appreciate and show reverence for them, and as he said: “The greatest of heroes can have no courage and be free from fear if he have not love.”

From helping us to become better listeners, to living side-by-side with animals in peaceful proximity, those with an open heart and mind can integrate animals into their lives, in a way that Walt Whitman might have envisioned.

Today, animals remain an invaluable source of inspiration and a reminder of our place in nature. Despite the sometimes contentious opinions surrounding the idea of living with animals, one thing remains true — that was Walt Whitman was onto something special.

Dannah Hannah is an established poet and author who loves to write about the beauty and power of poetry. She has published several collections of her own works, as well as articles and reviews on poets she admires. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a specialization in poetics, from the University of Toronto. Hannah was also a panelist for the 2017 Futurepoem book Poetry + Social Justice, which aimed to bring attention to activism through poetry. She lives in Toronto, Canada, where she continues to write and explore the depths of poetry and its influence on our lives.

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