As the scientific study of language progresses, we see that investigations into the relationship between sound, language and social evolution are well underway, shedding new light on the significance of human-animal relationships.  Imagine if people around the world learned to sense that evolution is being driven forward by a magical purpose and that the unfolding qualities of every life-form, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant, are part of that purpose. The word ‘sociology’ literally means, the study of companionship.  Human-animal relations are fundamentally about relationships. With regard to the many species of animals we share our hearts and homes with, our relationships are all about connecting through love, companionship and indeed, friendship.  

Amidst the crisis and turmoil in all areas of human life, we are also being presented with an opportunity to re-think the nature of our relationships, not only with other humans, but with animals and the natural world in general. This inspires greater awareness of the spiritual, as well as material, aspects of life.  A helpful way of perceiving outer world events is to take a longer term, more universal view that helps us realize humanity, as well as all life on our planet, is in the midst of a transition period. This ‘transitional movement’ is characterized by social evolution, where humanity is charged with the responsibility of creating a kinder, more unified world community, infused with the spirit of loving kindness that flows as goodwill throughout all kingdoms of nature.  

While much of humanity is naturally feeling despair and frustration in response to current world conditions, there is an abundance of evidence that suggests the formation of a new civilization is emerging from the ground up.  In addition to the countless number of small groups that represent ‘citizens’ rather than governments, there are over ten million non-governmental organizations, and a growing number of international, parliamentary assemblies and institutes, that are constantly increasing in number as well as in their ‘scope of rights’.  These ‘rights’ are rooted in the spirit of good human relations and includes our relations with the natural world.  

It is difficult for most of us to appreciate the relationship between parliamentary assemblies, social evolution and language, which is fundamentally sound. A connection can be found in the root meaning of the word parliament, which means ‘to talk‘.  When parliamentary talk is filled with honesty and conviction, language can become a powerful instrument of social change and evolution, inspiring new ideas and activities infused with higher ideals.  

The original meaning of a word, and its associated meanings, often goes unrecognized; yet this is where we often discover hidden depths of meaning and significance.  For example, the word parliament is not only used to describe a group of politicians, but it is also used in relation to groups of birds’. Birds are often associated with heavenly worlds and angels.  When I researched the phrase, ‘parliament of birds’, I discovered other phrases that not only described groups of birds, but the sounds they made! So we have: a worm of robins, a parliament of rooks, an exultation of skylarks, a murmuration of starlings, a hermitage of thrushes, a volery of wagtails, a museum of waxwings, a chime of wrens and a murder of crows.  The sound of crows is perhaps the most familiar on this list. Their sound is also one we more easily relate to in terms of it being a language. As they call out, their voices sound remarkably and at times, disturbingly human.  Remembering the word parliament means ‘to talk’, we can try to imagine what the crows are talking about as they communicate with each other in their native language, using sounds whose meanings they understand – even if we don’t.  

The language of birds, and in fact all species of animals, is meaningful, but because their sounds are different from the kinds of sounds we are familiar with in word-based language, we tend to ignore their messages because we simply do not recognize or understand their sounds. This is a phenomenon well known to anyone who has ever overheard a conversation, or been spoken to in a language completely ‘foreign’ to them, meaning they were unable to understand what was being said or communicated.  Animals experience this when humans speak to them using sounds that have no meaning to them. To their credit, they are often the ones that make the greater effort to learn the language of humans in spite of our inability or unwillingness to learn theirs. We understand languages whose sounds we have learned to interpret in meaningful ways, but language can involve more than sound. It may involve movement and gestures, which rely on the sense of sight in addition to hearing. Communication takes place in the mind, whatever and wherever that is. Scientists have been debating this for centuries. We can make up our own minds.

Our interactions with companion animals are infused with powerful new meaning when we understand their language and through sounds, gestures and movements, learn to communicate with each other. Deeper levels of understanding, appreciation, and higher sense of purpose are created when we realize our relationships with animals are helping the social evolution of humanity. We bring more kindness and goodwill into the world through the spirit of relationship expressed as the loving care, understanding and respect we show animals. In return, they simply create more love in the world. This is what Animal Kinship is about and this is what we mean when we say, Animal Kinship is more than a shop. It’s a social movement.