Discerning the heart of a child

"We can judge the heart of a man," said 18th-century philosopher Immanuel Kant, "by his treatment of animals." When I took this picture, I wasn't sure what was in the heart of Walter Galvino, the boy in the water. He was cooling off in a small pool near his home in Barrio San Alberto, southwest of Buenos Aires. A Monitor reporter and I were visiting to research a story on the Argentine economy. I hadn't seen Walter pluck the bird from its perch, but I did hear the wild flapping of wings on water and squeals of laughter as the boy lowered the bird to the surface of the pool. Was he being cruel? "If that parrot could talk," I thought, "he'd be screaming, 'Help!' " But then Walter held the bird gently above the water, whispering to his pet as he tenderly returned it to a branch. I was relieved to see his kindness. Parrots like water; it was all innocent fun. Walter's family has few material possessions, but animals know only the treatment they are givenand not whether people live in poverty or wealth. Walter's pet is rich indeed.

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