Wednesday, November 28, 2007

In Which a Deer Pulls at My Heartstrings

I was coming home from a productive day of work last night, taking my usual route. I turned left from part D to part C of the map, and I had to stop immediately, because the car in front of me had come to a complete stop. I leaned my body from side to side, trying to see what had stopped him, and I could make out enough to see the body of a deer, lying in the road. But soon I was surprised and horrified to see it get up and attempt to cross the road: surprised because I thought it was dead, and horrified because its back legs had been completely obliterated.

I could see the pain and the fear in the deer's eyes as it dragged its lifeless backside across the road with the strength of its front legs. It collapsed when it got to the middle turn lane, rested a bit, and picked itself up again. I called 911 from my cellphone, and informed the operator of the location of the deer. It would not be suffering much longer.

After I got off the phone, I began to cry. Accidents happen, but whatever motorist hit this deer did not bother to stop, or to call 911, and instead left an animal to suffer. Death is a natural consequence of life, and suffering is far too commonplace for my tastes, but I couldn't help thinking about the situation from the poor deer's perspective. Is that how I would want my final moments? To suffer pointlessly, thanks to the insensitivity of a fellow creature on this earth?

And then my mind drifted to war. Our brave soldiers come home without legs, like this deer, or with their faces completely gone, or their brains damaged, etc., and all due to the insensitivity of their fellow human beings: the lack of compassion of our leaders, who send them into a pointless war; the cruelty of the people who set roadside bombs; the bloodthirstiness of psychopaths on both sides of the conflict, engaged in a Holy War. These soldiers are people's children, caught in the middle of this horror!

I could not, in good conscience, send anyone's children to die except as a very last resort. (I cried over a deer. If my son died, I don't know what I would do! So there's no way I could sentence someone else to that fate.) Some may consider me weak, but I don't think so. There are plenty of more effective methods of conflict resolution. Nonviolent communication, which involves listening and understanding the grievances of the other side, is a good way to start.


Pete said...

I could think of plenty of reasons not to stop

Rebecca said...

While there are indeed plenty of reasons not to stop, there is a very compelling reason to stop: state law. In any accident upon a public thoroughfare, if there is more than $50 worth of damage to property (including yours) or if a person is injured (not applicable in this case, I would guess), you are required to pull over. The exception to this is if you are on an isolated road or on the highway, in which case you can pull to the nearest "inhabited" area. But this was a well-traveled road (it was rush hour) and there was a place where the driver could have pulled over and not blocked traffic. And judging from the state of the deer's hind end, it seems highly likely that the vehicle had incurred more than $50 worth of damage. So, assuming that the driver wasn't rushing to the emergency room (which seems statistically unlikely), he or she should have stopped.

Laura said...

This is touching, Becca. You know, E.O. Wilson (author of the book Biophilia) thinks that we're evolutionarily programmed to care about fellow creatures, even non-humans, but that this innate tendency can be lost if we don't have the chance to experience and get to know non-human animals.

So I think it speaks highly of you that you were touched by the deer. And I like your connection with war. It's so sad, how much we can hurt each other, both physically and emotionally!