Thankfully my mom was up next and she almost always picks a winner.
A book with a subtitle: Saving Simon: How a rescue donkey taught me the meaning of compassion by Jon Katz
Simon is living in a filthy pen made for a pig with wire mesh walls and a pallet shelter only a foot or two off the ground. One day he lays down and puts his head under it for shelter against a cold rain and can’t get back up. His owner ignores him hoping he will die and it is only the love of the farmer’s son who throws handfuls of stolen hay by his head and eventually calls animal rescue that saves his life.
Jon acquires Simon from the rescue the day after he is freed from his prison and takes on the rule of physician, therapist and owner. Jon owns 90 acres in upstate New York, writes about animals for a living and has two other donkeys. He works hard at bringing Simon back from the brink and together they tackle the world.
This novel is an easy read and took two sittings to get it done. It wasn’t as heart wrenching as I feared it would be and actually has a happy ending – all good things.
While on the outside the book is about bringing a rescue donkey in, the narrative is really about Jon’s wrestling with the conception of compassion and mercy. His questions are thought provoking.
Why is it so easy to be compassionate towards a cute animal, say a donkey, but not an ugly one like an alligator?
Why are so many people who are in the business of animal rescue so incredibly cruel to fellow humans?
Are you truly a compassionate person if you extend it only towards those you like, agree with or need?
Does the farmer, fallen on hard times and unable to feed the donkey, in as much need of compassion as the donkey himself? Should we quickly condemn him?
What is mercy? In today’s world of increasing life spans and holding on tightly, is it more merciful to just let go?
These questions come up time and again and his own answers are at times surprising. I found my self disagreeing with him on quite a few points although I enjoyed seeing things from his point of view as well.