Compassion & Vegetarianism Come Naturally To Kids (Well, Some Kids, Anyway)

It’s true what they say, you know: it’s easy to grow hard with age. To become mean and callous.

I see it in myself every day. It’s evident in the way I slow down at stop lights, hoping to avoid getting stuck in the inside lane where, if I wanted to, I could reach out and touch the homeless people begging on the neutral ground. I could even give them the spare change sitting on my dashboard. But I don’t.

The funny thing is, I’ve never behaved that way toward animals. (With the exception of cockroaches. And a few frogs when I was younger, but that’s a story for another time.) If I see a dog or a cat or a bird or a lizard, my instinct isn’t to swat it away, but to watch it. Maybe even to protect it.

Secretly, I think that response has something to do with the bullying I endured as a gay kid, growing up in Mississippi. I don’t like to see anyone or anything pushed around just because he/she/it is smaller or weaker or different.

Then again, maybe it’s because I grew up with three younger brothers. I would never have admitted it at the time, but I felt very protective toward all of them. Especially the youngest two.

Bottom line: I’m a softie, and I always have been. I put up a good front, but I’m easily moved.

So, when I saw this video, I had to laugh. And cry, a little. Except for the Portuguese, this is a fairly accurate portrait of me as a child:


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