When I was younger, I was under the impression that the world’s inhabitants were either ‘good’ or ‘evil’, with a wide dividing mark so that everyone knew where the other stood. Making the correct decision may have not always been easy, but it was an evident choice in what was clearly right vs. what was clearly wrong.
Unfortunately, growing up eliminates these simplicities.
It’s often been said one learns something new every day, and with such a vast, unfamiliar world out there this seems entirely probable. It may be nothing big, only a fun fact you come across online or a developing news story you happen to catch while flipping through TV channels. For myself, every day seems to bring with it only the realization of how wrong I had once been, and how the ‘good’ of this world may not all be the heroes I had thought they all were. This, I will come back to.
To set some background for you few readers who are fighting through this, I have several pets. I have a respect and deep love for animals of all kinds, and do not go out of my way to harm things if it can be avoided. In the recent year I have become aware of the atrocities humans inflict upon animals and fellow people; I have seen dogs skinned alive, cats crammed in cages and dropped from stacked trucks, heard sickening stories of monkeys eaten alive, watched helplessly the Humaine Society videos depicting cows with broken legs left to die as the ranchers hardly spare them a glance. Many cultures believe the more pain an animal suffers through the better it will taste, so prolonged hours of torture are the fate of thousands of animals. Perhaps, and I haven’t yet ruled out this possibility, I am just overly sensitive, that these things bother me simply because I can’t turn and pretend they’re not there. Stories of child abuse, a man run over in the street and left unaided by those on the sidewalks, sicken me as well, but those around me seem to forget these injustices in a matter of hours, if not sooner, and I’m left to think I’m insane for dwelling longer on them.
Yet, when I try and talk about these things, I’m ignored. Scolded. Laughed at. Don’t tell me that, Ace; it’s too depressing. Don’t ruin my day; you can’t do anything by dwelling on the bad things. So gradually I have condemned myself to silence about the injustices, allowed them to remain unnoticed by the rest of the world. And it is because of this that none of these atrocities will ever stop, because many of those who say they care still won’t do anything to help—it’s too hard to leave their own, comfortable lives. And others will just refuse to listen, as if turning a blind eye will simply make it go away, make those out there who suffer not really exist. Bury your head in the sand—what you can’t see, won’t sadden you.
As promised, I will explain what I meant by ‘good’ men not being who I thought they were. Upset with news of an elderly dog thrown from a bridge—and killed—I unwisely tried to vent to one of my friends. In near tears (pathetic, I know) I explained how I can’t understand how humans can hurt animals the way they do, how the torture of them goes on every day unchecked. Though, instead of listening, he instead accused me of caring more for animals than of people. Of holding them in higher regard, and though I tried to explain this wasn’t true in any way he wouldn’t allow himself to see it from my point of view. He repeated ‘humans are superior’ as his main argument, and made it clear he supported the culture of torturing animals. I was crushed, not only because of what he said but because of who he was; a good guy, I had thought. Moral, I had thought. Would never intentionally hurt anyone, and not generally unkind. So, if the world is made up of these ‘good’ people, how is anything going to change?
For a long time I asked myself this and have come to the conclusion that it won’t. It never will, because all those who say they care and do nothing and all those who couldn’t be less uninterested so greatly outnumber the few who want things to change and act on it. And one soul cannot change the world, no matter what the stories say.