Abandoned Kittens & the Meaning of Life
As a parent, when you receive a sudden phone call from your teenage son who should be pulling up in the driveway at that moment, it is always a bit unnerving. When my phone rang recently with such a call, flashes of panic swept over me. There was clearly stress in his voice, too, when I answered. But it was not from what I had feared. As he had pulled up to our house, he nearly hit a tiny kitten and discovered that 3 sweet baby kittens had been cruelly dumped by the side of the road. He insisted on not only rounding up the 3 (who were beside themselves with fear and grief, crying out for their mother) and bringing them safely home, but going back out to look for more or for their mother.
Finding a few other scattered objects in that spot this morning, it was clear that they had been in a box and just dumped there during the night. It was not lost on me in that moment that at least one of our adopted daughters was found inside a cardboard box in the dark of the pre-morning hours, left crying out for a lost mother, abandoned and alone. It was also not lost on me that not very long ago some other local teenage boys were arrested for torturing and killing a kitten, leaving it spread out on the high school football field.
It can be difficult to explain the actions of some unless we fully grasp the profound effect our individual and collective understanding of the value of life has on our behavior. While we might not be the type to unceremoniously dump helpless kittens on the side of the road (or, worse yet, beat one to death), or leave a child in a box in the cold night crying and alone, it is the unfortunate propensity of humans to value those that matter to us personally more highly than those to whom we do not feel connected or responsible. The teen boys who tortured the kitten may not grow up to be psychotic killers. The mother or father who left my child in a box may have had political and social reasons for feeling like that abandonment was their best option. But the end result is the same. Life was not valued, respected, protected, and as a result, we are all harmed by the lack of value placed on life, human or otherwise.
We recently adopted a Golden Retriever after several failed attempts to adopt one. Why failed, you might ask? How hard can it be to ADOPT a dog as so many are abandoned and left at shelters? What we discovered in our long process of finding a family dog is that even amongst “animal advocates” there is prejudice and different values placed on life. For example, if you want to adopt any regular “mutt”, the rules are fairly lax. But when you are looking for a beautiful, highly valued Golden Retriever, entire shelters have been set up to rescue those special dogs, and the rules are very different. As a family, we have adopted three human beings, but were actually turned down for a Golden adoption by one shelter, deemed to “not be the best family in line” for the adoption. In this seemingly trite example, we see a glimpse again of the human nature to “pick favorites”, to value those we think are “cute”, “beautiful”, “smart”, or somehow worthy of being valued. But the ugly, the broken, those with special needs, those who are not like us, those who cannot give anything back to us…are they worth our efforts to jump out of the car and rush them out of harm’s way, too?
After many year working with impoverished communities, throw-away children, victims of sex trafficking, and orphans, I am still amazed at how much attention the “cute” ones receive, and how hard it is to get us a human race to care about the ones that do not attract us for whatever reason.
Overcome your human instincts. Fight against the tendency in ALL of our souls to ignore the cries of those that do not move us because they are different, or ugly, or difficult. I have no doubt the Creator of those tiny kittens smiled down on my son as he took the time to search fervently for lost lives and do whatever was in his power to give them a chance to fulfill their potential. Life is life. There is nothing more valuable or worth our time. And with each life we lift out of darkness, we bring that much more light into our own lives.