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Kindness comes from within — Beer vs. Bread
Sonny the bat

Be Kind to Sick Bats

by Greg I. Hamilton on June 4, 2010

There I was, doing silly-looking physical therapy stretches on a lounge chair in the middle yard. He showed up out of nowhere and said “hello friend.” Now, setting aside my embarrassment over being caught in a battle with a stretchy yellow band, this would not have been an unusual occurrence. Now that we have a fence to corral our dog plus several others from the neighborhood, our middle yard has become a bit of a thoroughfare. But, you see, what made this unusual was that my visitor didn’t walk in through the gate, but rather flew in.

“Hello new friend,” I replied.

“It’s old friend, I assure you. I am Sonny.” He executed a flourish and a deep bow.

I could feel my grin pushing my earlobes back. “Sonny?! The little injured baby bat I gave water and a grape and set up on top of the arbor until you were able to fly away?”

“The very same. I am alive thanks to you and the neighbor who brought me to you.”

“It seems I have become the neighborhood authority on flying mammals.”

“I suspect it was also because your neighbors know you as kind.”

“Funny, that’s the very topic I need to blog about this month. Kind is the sixth point of the Scout Law, after helpful, friendly, and courteous. I’ve been having trouble seeing the difference between each of those. Aren’t all four pretty similar?”

He examined the tiny fingers on one of his winged arms. I found myself wondering if bats have fingernails— what marvelous little clippers they must have! He said: “Well, I’m sure you can do the nerdy word wrangling as well as I can, comparing etymologies, connotations, and sample usages. But it would be nice to go deeper, right?”

“Exactly,” I answered. “I was thinking that courtesy and helpfulness are based on something external: following rules of etiquette or responding to other people’s needs. Kindness and friendliness seem to come from an inner source.”

“OK, but how is being kind different from being friendly?”

“Well, friendliness can be sort of solicitous, like you’re putting forth good vibes in hopes of getting something back.” I pondered a moment then caught myself scrutinizing my own fingernails. “Kindness seems more selfless. I think it comes from the heart.”

“Good thoughts,” said Sonny. “Ponder this: it’s easy to be kind to animals, but sometimes tougher to be kind to your own, ahem, kind.” He began making motions to depart: “I’m afraid I have an appointment for a manicure. Can we continue this another time?”

“Certainly. It’s good to see you flying, Sonny.”

“And it’s good to see you, um—” he glanced at the yellow band which was still tugging on my Achilles, and he grinned mischievously: “—stretching.” His expression became earnest and he said emphatically: “Thank you, friend.”

These important mammals are threatened[By the way, there is currently a very real threat to bats across the U.S. Should you find a spot of kindness for these creatures, which are incredibly valuable to our ecosystem, please look into the current spread of White Nose Syndrome. It has become a legitimate epizootic (a disease epidemic afflicting only animals). While this is not a disease that can spread to humans, it has already killed millions of the world’s only flying mammals. That includes endangered species as well as those contributing significantly to the balance of life by devouring agricultural pests, spreading seeds, pollinating our flora, and providing spectacular nightly aeronautics for our middle-yard viewing delight. There are groups working to study this disease and stop its spread. Over 50 conservation groups have petitioned Congress for funding— which can take time and is hardly guaranteed. Any help you can provide would be a kind gesture to our ecosystem.]

Thanks for reading. Cheers,

Blog #6 of a monthly series on the 12 points of the Scout Law.

Photo by noiseburst. Map by Bat Conservation International.

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