I have always been crazy about horses. I spent the better part of my tenth year whinnying, and around the same time nearly met my maker when a horse I was riding tried to roll over and crush me because it could sense how much of a soft touch I was. When I was 13, I went to a horseback riding camp for two months and nearly crippled my horse with an oozing saddle sore because I couldn’t bear to tighten the cinch.
Through animals, I understood something early on about the fragility of life. My father once caught a gray field mouse in a trap and I lunged to touch it. “Get away!” he shouted, and I cried. I think it was my mother who gave me two baby turtles, one painted blue and the other yellow. I thought it was fantastic, fantastical, until someone told me they would suffocate. I tried to wipe off the paint but couldn’t, and I cried. After, there slowly dawned in me the idea that cruelty abounded, and then it became more than an idea. I learned about bull goring, and dog fighting, and fox hunting, and more.
A few days ago I heard on the radio a story about how the bloated rich in China race pigeons and how birds that are not fast enough are gassed or drowned or decapitated. How is it, I wonder, that we come to lose our humanity or perhaps never find it in the first place.