Dear 431,266 people who signed the Justice for Harambe petition,
I get it. I admit, when I first saw that video, my first thought was “where are this child’s parents?!?!” Because, it’s kind of our nature to start blaming right of the bat, isn’t it? Something bad happens, and we want to know who is responsible.
But as I watched the events unfold, I couldn’t help but put myself in the shoes of that tiny little boy. Harambe was a magnificent, and beautiful creature…to us. Adults. From the safety of our couches. To that child, he must have been a monster of nightmarish proportions. To think of the fear that boy must have been feeling as he looked into that massive face, took in those huge arms and hands, felt the strength behind them, made me feel sick. And then I thought of his parents. Dear God. I cannot imagine the panic, the horror, the paralyzing terror that would have gripped me if it had been my child in that cage with that animal. It honestly brings tears to my eyes.
Which is why I just can’t bring myself to understand this petition.A petition that calls for the investigation of parents whose kid fell into a gorilla enclosure, because “We the undersigned want the parents to be held accountable for the lack of supervision and negligence that caused Harambe to lose his life.” (https://www.change.org/p/cincinnati-zoo-justice-for-harambe)
I sincerely hope that none of you, not a single one, has children. Because if you did, I would hope you’d understand that you are not immune. That sometimes, despite the best parenting, the best teaching, the best preparing for the worst, the best safety measures being put in place…accidents happen.
A few days ago I was getting my baby out of his car seat, and my toddler was standing by my side. I have taught him exactly what space on the driveway he is allowed to be on. He knows which areas are safe and which aren’t. He understands that I need to be able to see him, and he shouldn’t go on the road and there are cars and etc, etc. But in the two seconds that I took my focus off of him to unclip the car seat buckle, I turned and he was gone. Panic. I called for him. No answer. More panic. I searched the road and he was not there. I called louder. “I’m right here, mom,” he said from the other side of the car, where he was admiring his reflection in the door.Phew. That could have been bad.
The thing is that no matter how hard you try, these little people are little people. They make their own decisions – sometimes very bad ones – because they don’t have the mental capacity yet to fully understand danger, and what could happen. If you are a parent, you know this.
Perhaps you signed this petition because you are childless and assume you could do better than this mom at the zoo on that particular day. I know that you would try. But trust me, you wouldn’t always succeed. I sure hope no one will create a petition calling for you to be investigated on the day of your biggest failure.
Perhaps you signed this petition because you are a parent, and know you could, and already do, do better. Oh sweet parent. It’s going to be a long hard fall when you come crashing down off that pedestal. I hope that you will be caught by grace rather than the judgement you so freely distributed.
Perhaps you signed this petition, not because of anything to do with parenting, but because you hate the idea that a stunning animal like this was killed. I hear you. This was a tragedy. And I commend your passion and desire to fight for the wildlife of this world. The earth and all it’s creatures are unique, beautiful and deserving of protection. If you carry a passion inside you to fight for the animals that need fighting for, I respect and admire you for that. And if Harambe had been killed by a hunter hungry for a trophy, or for the sake of clearing land to make room for development, or some other such unworthy cause, I would wholeheartedly sign this petition.
But he was killed for the sake of the child. It was not his fault. I know that. But you know what? It wasn’t the child’s fault either. And it wasn’t his moms, or his dads. It was a sad accident. Can you see that it would have been so much more tragic if that tiny boy had been hurt or killed? Can you understand that this child’s life was worth protecting, no matter the cost? Or does your compassion not extend that far?
Dear 431,266 people who signed the Justice for Harambe petition, this is unacceptable. Please. Lets do better.