By: Amanda Chatel
We think we know best, but we actually know squat.
For as long as I can remember, my father has been stopping for turtles crossing the road. And if you’ve ever been to New Hampshire, this happens quite a bit. Whether it be a back country road or a major highway, my father will jam on his breaks to save a turtle. I won’t even get into all the times he stopped mid-traffic to save a dog, a cat, a deer, a moose, or any other living creature.
Even before I was able to comprehend exactly what it meant, my father told both my sister and I, “Don’t ever think you’re better than another living creature just because your brain might be bigger. We are all equal; all life is equal.”
Today, as an adult, I know that to be truth.
I advocate for animals. When I have the time to volunteer, I do. When I don’t, I do what I can with financial contributions. To me, in a world with so much horror being inflicted on each other as humans, animals are far superior. They don’t start war over a religion. They don’t murder out of jealousy or hate. They don’t see the world as we do, with judgmental eyes. By all accounts, they go about their lives, void of the complexities of being human — and are better for it.
So when I heard about the murder of Harambe, the gorilla in the Cincinnati Zoo, my heart broke. First and foremost, my heart always breaks for animals in cages, but secondly it broke because he is dead; killed, murdered, no longer apart of this world. Why? Humans, of course.
About a month ago, a baby bison in Yellowstone National Park was euthanized (although I say “murdered”), because some half-wit human beings thought the baby was cold. So as humans do, thinking they ‘know best’ because of that bigger brain, they loaded the baby up in their car and went looking for a park ranger, completely unaware of the damage they had caused.
For starters, animals in the wild can take care of themselves and secondly, animals in the wild can take care of themselves. But these wannabe heroes, who are actually the biggest idiots in the world, were the reason the baby bison was put to sleep.
That’s the problem with human beings and our big brain: we think we know best but we actually know squat. Which brings us back to Harambe.
I will never, for as long as I live, celebrate a caged life. I don’t go to zoos. I don’t go to circuses and when I was in Southeast Asia a couple months ago, I wasn’t one of the many tourist jackasses who thought an elephant’s back was an ideal diving board. I may not be a perfect person but I am, above all else, a person who celebrates life, in all its forms. Yes, even a gorilla who supposedly was violent with a child.
To me, Harambe’s life is a major loss. To me, his life is just as important a life as yours or mine. Our life isn’t worth more because we have a bigger brain and can verbally convey pain, sadness, and fear.
To me, his life is equal to mine. His life is no less or no more than the life of the son of Michelle Gregg, who carelessly let her kid wander into Harambe’s territory. Yes, that child may be human but that doesn’t mean that child’s life is worth more.
It’s not my business nor my style to fault Gregg as a mother. Her mothering skills aren’t my concern and as a non-mother, I can’t even begin to understand what it might entail to control a four-year-old. But that being said, her child’s life isn’t superior to Harambe’s life.
Just because that soul was fortunate enough to be born into the body that’s human doesn’t mean he should get special treatment. As my father taught us, his life isn’t worth more just because he’s human.
That child is alive and well and because of the carelessness of his mother or zoo security (or whomever you want to blame) an endangered silverback gorilla is dead. Do you know how many silverback gorillas are left in the world? Do you know how many humans are left in the world?
We tend to think that this planet is ours for the taking. We think, as selfish humans with that bigger brain, we are allowed to do what we want, no matter what the outcome may be. We are the reason for the extinction and near-extinctions of dozens of animals; we are the reason behind climate change; we are the reason behind thousands of innocent lives being killed, all in the name of religion.
We are, to be honest, a horrible species.
I will never, for as long as I live, think that Michelle Gregg’s child is worth more than Harambe. And I will continue to argue against anyone who feels differently. You think your life is worth more than an animal? Well, my friend, you’re missing so much about the beauty of being alive.
As Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” This quote is fact and should be taken to heart every time you dare to think you’re superior to an animal.
You’re human but that doesn’t make you special. If anything, it gives you the realization and knowledge to know right from wrong, and when wrong happens — as is the case with Harambe’s murder — you should get up and scream. Because injustice calls for screaming, and lots of it.