I will never understand three crimes: roadkill, animal abuse, and littering.
I consider myself fairly upstanding when it comes to the law. I don’t break the law or break rules if I can help, sometimes even if it doesn’t matter if I should. I don’t speed (…much), I don’t buy pirated copies of movies or knock-off toys (it’s a big problem in the Transformers world). I believe in rules and laws.
But at the same time, I GET a lot of crime. I’ve been hungry and had to steal food. Not didn’t have ‘enough’ to eat, not didn’t have what I ‘wanted’ to eat. Steal or genuinely starve. That’s been me. And I get some more, how shall we say, politically and socially motivated crimes. I even get some violent crimes. I’ve known some people that, loathe as I am to admit it, I genuinely believe the world will be a better place once they are gone.
So believe me when I say I get some crimes. And when a crime occurs, my first instinct is often to ask contextual questions. What lead up to this? What caused this event to culminate here and now? Who are the parties? You get the idea.
When I see a dog being mistreated? When I see a cat that’s been abused? That, I have no concept of what causes that. That, I see only evil. That I see only malice and maliciousness and a malignancy of spirit.
When I find cigarette butts on the pavement, when I see cans tossed to the side of the road, wrappers and fast food bags that have been thrown out, I see aggressive laziness. Proactive laziness. Laziness that is not just prideful but weaponized. Laziness that costs the lives and well-being of others and for whom the lazy is proud.
Roadkill is the culmination of these two behaviors for me. Seeing the dead on the side of the road fills me with sorrow. Sorrow for the animal and sorrow for the worthless wretch that left it behind and sorrow for those who drive passed and do nothing, say nothing, feel nothing.
I get accidents. I’ve stepped on my cat’s paw. I’ve yelled at my dog. Both were followed by sincere apologies. I get accidents. I get driving at high speeds and a napkin flies out of the fast food bag. I’ve had stuff go flying out the back of the car, disappearing off the side of the road. I get accidents. I’ve swerved to avoid squirrels and birds and even deer, knowing if I had been going any faster or if the turn had been any sharper, the result could have been very different. I get accidents.
Accidents are when you try to keep a thing from happening and it happens anyways. Indifference to a tragedy, unaware of one’s responsibility to avoid a tragedy, is not grounds for an accident. It’s grounds for the inevitable.
I fed two deer this morning in my backyard. There had been three. I saw, I fear, the third on the side of the road the other morning. I wonder if her murderer even slowed down, or if they just cursed her for being in ‘their road’.
How we treat animals – as individuals and as a culture and as a species – is far more telling to me than just about anything else. And these three crimes – roadkill, animal abuse, and littering – are aggressive dismissals of the importance of animals. They are crimes I will never understand and will never excuse and will never tolerate.