Monday, June 6, 2016

Why I Defend Cincinnati Zoo's Decision

I'm thoroughly fed up with the bigoted judgements floating around on this topic. I tried not to say anything, but I'm too worked up because this subject hits me in a personal way - I am currently pregnant with my first child, and there was a terrible accident in my family before I was born, that almost declared my parents unfit. So allow me to elaborate on the two most popular arguments.

1) Gorilla or child? 
I'm under no delusion about human innocence, nor even the innocence of a child. Children are not innocent - they are naïve. The child who crawled and fell into that pen was a naïve child, not an innocent one. The gorilla, like all animals, was innocent and behaved according to the way any gorilla might while being screamed at from all sides. I feel bad for Harambe. He didn't deserve death.

However, this is the very reason we cannot stand by to leave the child to fend for itself in mortal peril. Children are born helpless, trusting and as I said, naïve. In foster children, especially those who frequently return home to give fallen parents a twelfth try at being their guardian, trust is a difficult thing to earn. Foster children often suffer poorer grades when at these homes. The lack of structure due to being tossed between their biological parents and their foster parents is devastating to a sense of stability, and in destabilizing the environment for these kids, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to become healthy and productive members of society, and especially of a household. Chain reactions of bad treatment are passed down generation to generation in some cases, all because they were broken as children. Often, rather than being shown mercy, these kids are harshly judged.

What does that have to do with Harambe and the three year old? Trust. The moment we stop defending human life is the moment we become incapable of trust, toward so-called security, toward each other as humans, toward God if you had any to start with, and even toward nature. Ask yourself what it would do to you to watch a three year old ripped to pieces or smashed by a wild animal. Would your sense of trust and security be shaken? You bet, and deeply too. Now you want to know why that's a bad thing: fear is what replaces trust. If you really need to know why fear is so bad for you then read any history book ever and notice how your evil dictators get everyone to follow them into despicable actions. Most of the worst atrocities in history start with fear, and the evidence is not hard to find, so maybe before we jump to the conclusion that the gorilla should have lived because of human faults, we ought to also consider the kind of mental meyhem that would have caused, and the reason why we do form societies and protect other humans, especially our moldable children.

In making the decision about shooting the gorilla, I don't give a crap if the parents were negligent. That is completely irrelevant in the matter of whether or not to save the child's life.

2) Were the parents even negligent?

I have a personal story to share here. Approximately one year before I was born, my mom was preparing the bath for my older brother. Briefly, she had to turn away and in an instant, my brother, 10 months old at the time, had turned on the water. He had turned it all the way up. I think my aunt owned the house they were in, or something, because she was responsible for the fact that the water heater was also turned all the way up (not sure if she did this, or a previous occupant - she may not have known). My brother was severely burned because my mom turned away for twelve seconds.

Since this incident, my brother received more than fifty surgeries - my mom lost count after that - and still has scar tissue covering a large percentage of his skin. His right hand was not circulating blood after the burn, and so the figers were amputated. Although an attempt to place new fingers there was tried, he still can't do a whole lot with that hand.

Shortly after this nightmare, my mom also withstood several trials, culminating in her being the only individual capable of making decisions in my family. First was of course my brother and his surgeries. Then she became pregnant with me but found out she had a gallbladder problem that required surgery. Then my father was diagnosed with brain cancer. And then I was born and had a bunch of ear infections. And then of course, there was the fact that despite being cleared in one state and by the Air Force, the state of Arkansas where we lived at the time, tried to take custody of my brother away. 

I didn't learn about this fact until after I was married myself, but it gave me pause. I had always looked up to all of my family members for how they endured everything thrown at them, and had wondered how my mom dealt with my brother being burned on an emotional level. Honestly, she didn't even have another child to be distracting like the mother in the Harambe incident and my brother still got burned. One time I did have someone try to claim she was a bad parent and I berated them for assuming they knew everything, because I can't imagine life without my brother or my mom. I probably overreacted to that person but no one had ever said that about her and they couldn't be more wrong in my eyes. Sure, I argue with my mom, and we don't always see eye-to-eye, bt she was a great parent. Both my brother and I grew up knowing we were loved and secure. He is even thinking about working in the burn unit as a nurse, where he would no doubt connect with many of the patients there in a positive way. In fact, my brother and my mom have an even closer bond than I do with either of them. Instead, I bonded most with my father, whose strong influence has made me into a gentler, and more confident human being. Furthermore, seeing the strength of his relationship to my mother has wizened me to understand what love truly looks like. Frankly, what they have taught me would be far too much to list here, but to stay on topic, they especially taught me the lesson of Job.

No human being is innocent or perfect. Everything we have is a gift, though we do at times misuse our gifts. Primarily though, strife falls upon everyone equally. Just because you worked hard doesn't mean you will get what you worked for, even if it increased your chances. Just because a kid stole your bike doesn't mean you will get justice. Just because you never take your eye off your child and have surgically removed any need to blink doesn't mean they won't come to trouble. The fact is, you can't be perfect, parents can't be perfect, the world isn't fair, and you never know what can be born from the ashes of a bad situation if only you have the endurance and wisdom to recognize it.

Romans 5:3-4 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Furthermore, Jesus has quite a bit to say about pride against your fellow human being, that really transforms into common sense: 

Luke 6:37-38 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” 

Matthew 18:21-34 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed."

Don't leap so quickly to judgments. Your heart is no less corrupt than another's, and and you will be judged by your own words when the time comes for you to make a devastating, regrettable mistake.

No comments:

Post a Comment