A tragedy happened tonight. There weren’t any reporters on the scene. The incident did not draw attention from the masses. In fact, it may have been a tragedy that did not stir the heart of the driver or human witnesses – it may have not invoked any emotion whatsoever. It likely was not even thought of as a tragedy….yet in so many ways it was. Perhaps there was some feeling of regret, which was likely followed by all the thoughts that bombard our minds and tell us “it was unavoidable.”
As we drove by, my heart ached as I saw the potential danger, knowing that not even I could stop it if it were about to happen. I could not get out on the freeway and stop the masses of oncoming traffic. It would have been suicide for me very probably, and it most likely would have caused a car accident, one that maybe would take other lives besides the one or more about to step onto that freeway and make their way across. As we raced by at freeway speed, looking back at them, I could only mutter “Oh no, Lord please no.”
I did not see what happened. I saw the first one run back to the side of the roadway to join the other two, but….then…we were out of sight. I could not get this out of my mind as my husband and I went on toward our destination. I thought “is there some way we could have blocked traffic, helped them across; or, to scare them away from the busy road?” Likely, even if we had turned around to circle back, whatever was going to happen would already have happened. So I asked Tim if he would drive us back by there on the way home so I could see how the story would end. I had to know. Of course as one who has lived with an animal lover and advocate for quite a while now, these things no longer surprise him. Though I still get the rolling of the eyes and the “you want me to do what?!” he did drive us back toward the scene.
As we drove by, I could see plainly from the other side of the freeway what I had feared most would happen had. For some time now, I have been naming the unknown victims who get hit on the roadways – those victims that as the world races by will never be seen as such, whose lives go unnoticed, whose families will never be thought of. I give them a name and pray for them and their family. For to God they were someone. To God, this is a tragedy. To them and their families, this is a tragedy, and it ought to be one for us, too.
Sam (I think this was three males) tried to cross the freeway and bring the other two with. Sam was lying in the roadway, and the other two friends had gone back out into a field. They had been there on the side of the roadway, they saw it happen. One can only imagine as we try to picture it, seeing through their eyes what that must have been like for them…. Maybe the two that were left were so frightened by the whole ordeal they went back out into the field. But it was clear they were upset. I did not have to get up close or hear them to tell. They circled the fence, both not far, still looking toward the scene where the body of their friend lies. If I could have, I would have taken the body to them so that they could grieve in peace.
The sun is ever full and bright,
The pale moon waneth night by night.
Why should this be?
My heart that once was full of light
Is but a dying moon to-night.
But when I dream of thee apart,
I would the dawn might lift my heart,
O sun, to thee.
This is what it is like for the lover of the animals. We often suffer, in silence, right along with those whose loss we can never really know the impact of on those left behind. But we know it affects them. We endeavor to envision what they see and hear. We know they are each individuals. We know they each matter. The more we know about animals and their social structures, their emotional lives, the more like us they become. So the tragedy is not just what happened on the roadway that we likely see happen a lot – to many different species of animals – tragic as it is for them and their families. The tragedy goes much deeper.
- It starts because of the kind of society that we create. It is one that excludes them from the range of consideration over what we do that affects them and their environment, families, their very survival.
- We have designed a world that fits our own needs. We build roadways through their homes. In cities, we see urban sprawl wipe away their habitat. These are only two examples.
The actual list is much longer and much more comprehensive than this. But this gets us thinking about what we do as a society, and what we consider important in shaping our societies. When one begins to think about this – the way it is and the way it perhaps should be or could be if we would but include animals as having worth and value as little societies themselves, living among us, who need room to grow, raise families, and do so unharmed by us; when we enter into and see their lives from their perspective – then we begin to suffer a sense of the breadth and depth of the tragedy. It is then that our eyes become opened to the reality of life we imposed upon these turkeys – Sam and friends – and for ALL animals. It is then that the desire to become the caregivers and the stewards that God created us to be for them starts to take root and become real as we see all the ways we have failed to be this for God as well as this for his creatures. This is a TREMENDOUS tragedy, indeed. But we can change this; we do not have to continue to do the things we have always done.
In the coming few weeks, I am going to begin a series on Animal Emotions. May this be our prayer: that we can together begin to realize the depth of who we were created to be as the caregivers of the creation; to be able to effectively communicate this in how we live, talk, act, and educate others about animal welfare issues; may we all be open to seeing animals afresh, with open minds and hearts as to who they are and what they need to live the lives they were created to live – not who we think they are and how they can best serve us; help us Jesus to see through the creatures eyes; and may we seek the Father in this with all our hearts.
In his thoughts, Herman spoke a eulogy for the mouse who had shared a portion of her life with him and who, because of him, had left this earth. “What do they know – all these scholars, all these philosophers, all the leaders of the world – about such as you? They have convinced themselves that man, the worst transgressor of all the species, is the crown of creation. All other creatures were created merely to provide him with food, pelts, to be tormented, exterminated. In relation to them, all people are Nazis; for the animals it is an eternal Treblinka.” ~ Issac Bashevis Singer, “The Letter Writer”
To begin learning about the animals lives, let’s start with Turkeys!
My Life as a Turkey
Nature Documentary with Biologist Joe Hutto
Thank you for reading and following our blog! We hope you will share it with others, and stay tuned for our series on Animal Emotions. Blessings to all ~ Kathy