In the Chinese zodiac calendar, the Year of the Horse has begun. More specifically, we’re in the year of the “wooden” horse because the 12-year animal cycle and the five-year cycle of elements – earth, water, fire, wood, and metal – aligned to make 2014 the first Year of the Wooden Horse since 1954. Occurring every 60 years, the one before that was 1894.
Wooden horse years haven’t always been peaceful. According to a list of eight Year of the Horse facts, “Years of the wooden horse are associated with warfare. The battle of Dien Bien Phu, which ended with the defeat of France by the Vietnamese, happened in 1954 and 1894 saw the start of the first Sino-Japanese war.”
True to the concepts of yin and yang in Eastern philosophy, however, those tumultuous years also saw steps toward social progress.
Governing the Winter Olympics next month in Sochi is the International Olympic Committee, formed in 1894 with a mission to promote human rights and ethics through sports. Past Olympic Games and preparations for this year’s have been marked by violence and controversy, but intolerance for those things remains consistent in the Olympic charter and shared by participants and spectators.
Intolerance also for animal mistreatment took shape in 1954 when the present-day Humane Society of the United States formed. Supported by Nobel Peace Prize-winning activist Albert Schweitzer, the National Humane Society legislated humane slaughter practices, euthanasia reform, and regulation of experimentation on animals, and also opened shelters and exposed dog trading, leading to the Animal Welfare Act of 1966.
Find relevant primary sources about these events and more in ArchiveGrid.