A Prayer

by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

from “The Brothers Karamazov”

Brothers, be not afraid of men's sins. Love man even in his sin,

for that already bears the semblance of divine love

and is the highest love on earth.

Love all God's creation, the whole of it and every grain of sand.

Love every leaf, every ray of God's light!

Love the animals, love the plants, love everything.

If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things.

And once you have perceived it,

you will begin to comprehend it ceaselessly

more and more every day.

And you will at last come to love the whole world

with an abiding, universal love.

Love the animals:

God has given them the rudiments of thought and untroubled joy.

Do not, therefore, trouble it, do not torture them,

do not deprive them of their joy.

Do not go against God's intent.

Man, do not exalt yourself above the animals:

they are without sin, while you with your majesty

defile the earth by your appearance on it

and you leave the traces of your defilement behind you.

Alas, this is true of almost every one of us!

Love children especially, for they, too, like the angels, are without sin,

and live to arouse tender feeling in us.

Woe to him who offends a child!