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#(39) LES ANIMAUX:
Between school and home was a pasture with a big horse. It ambled over to my sister and me, looking in a vague horsy way for an apple or a pat or whatever it wanted, but we were afraid. When we were little, we rode our grandfather's horse, "Old Mom," until one day she stopped short and we both slid down her neck onto the ground. That was the last time I've been on a horse.
After a while, we overcame our fear. We cut grass for the horse with our father's hacksaw, ruining it. The horse's big tombstone teeth and soft lips took the proffered grass from our hands with a surprising delicacy. The grass was no different from what grew on its own side of the fence, but it was served up.
The difference was between making a meal for yourself and eating a meal that someone else has made for you. The difference is care, companionship and love. Love makes things taste much better. The horse looked forward to seeing us, and we looked forward to seeing the horse. The horse's sweet hay breath gentled our mornings. One day the horse was gone and we missed it. Animals are long on emotions and short on brains. They teach us love, but they also teach us how to abuse power. They have to do what we tell them because they are our slaves. We can kill them if we want to and they cannot prevent us. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.*
*"Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." - Lord Acton (1834 - 1902) Letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton (1887). This recalls also the great Pike, the King of the Moat in T. H. White's Once and Future King: "There is nothing," said the monarch, "except the power which you pretend to seek: power to grind and power to digest, power to seek and power to find, power to await and power to claim, all power and pitilessness springing from the nape of the neck. "Love is a trick played on us by the forces of evolution. Pleasure is the bait laid down by the same. There is only power. Power is of the individual mind, but the mind's power is not enough. Power of the body decides everything in the end, and only Might is Right."