by The Leftist Review.com
It was many years ago, early one Monday morning. It felt like Monday too, with all that entails. I was making the commute in from suburban Atlanta through stop and go traffic. Just out of the corner of my eye I saw something dart out from ahead, but had no idea what it was. A second or two later, I saw this horrific spectacle. It was a cat, barely more than a kitten. It had been crushed by the wheels of a car. Its hind quarters were crushed flat, the cat was screaming in agony, as blood poured out from its mouth and nose.
I just felt terrible, but there was nothing I could do about it. In the traffic congestion, it would have taken me at least ten minutes to turn around and reach the cat and I'd have been taking my life in my hands to do so, trading the loss of a doomed kitty for the potential loss of my own life. I was a husband and father of two small children and couldn't risk it for a creature so obviously doomed. This is the crux of our nature, the Yin and the Yang of our humanity. On the one hand, we can feel absolutely dreadful about such a piteous scene, when it wasn't our cat and we didn't run it over. We can feel such compassion deeply for a non-human creature and remember it sadly, forever.
At the same time, we can rationalize it away so casually. Heavy traffic and potential dangers; if I'd rescued the cat, what then? Take it to the animal hospital and further obligate myself? This was back in the days of my own warm prosperity, when I was a good capitalist soldier. My boss however, was an aggressive capitalist general, and if I'd called work to explain about rescuing an injured cat, the general would have envisioned the act as senseless as being late for work because I'd stopped to pick daises.
Human beings are predators, we're capable of shutting the doors to our mind and locking out our empathy. We're capable of blowing Bambi's brains out, if it suits our needs, if we're hungry, or even to kill other humans, if programmed to do so for God and Country. A male lion, who finds a female with cubs, but without a mate, will kill her cubs. They say it's to pass on his own DNA and maybe that's so, but I think there's another reason: being a predator is a kill or be killed sort of occupation. You win or you lose! One way or the other, if you're the top predator in the food chain, you expect to win every time. Lions prefer hunting the young and the old for their prey. They feel no empathy for the immature water buffalo or the injured elder bull.
At the same time, they'll fight to the death to preserve their own cubs, proving the empathy is inside of them, but only for their own. Otherwise, it's I'm hungry, let's eat, and you'll do nicely.
With our alleged higher human reasoning, it's humans alone who have concocted this theory of fairness. A big guy jumps on a little guy and we declare it as not fair. This empathy of ours is wrestling with the Yang of our predatory nature. So who's to be the final arbiter of fairness in this life? How can we reconcile all in the world that is fair, and all that is not? Why that could only be the providence of the almighty God. But why, oh why, did God let that kitten run into the street? Of course, the answer we're told is that we shouldn't question the will of the almighty.
When I was fifteen years old, my mother died of a massive heart attack. Why did God do that? My mother was a wonderful person, the baby and favorite of her own brothers and sisters. How could a just God do such a thing? She was only 45 and had so much ahead of her. Her death ripped asunder the lives of a dozen or more people, who were equally innocent. The answer given from the pulpit was that God works in mysterious ways and we should not question the will of the Lord. You know what" that sounds like a cop out to me. If we find a twenty dollar bill on the sidewalk, God is looking out for us, that gray haired daddy of the clouds, just knew we needed twenty bucks, and needed it more than the poor guy who dropped it.