16 November 2009
The squirrels are out there. Like their other compatriots in the wild community, they are born, they grow out of infancy and many die – perhaps instantly, or perhaps after a painful lingering – without humans ever taking note.
It is no doubt a reality that most wild creatures similarly cycle through their lives without any human to bear witness. The laws of nature that govern their precious, precarious time on earth, after all, require no human consent, nor do they even require human participation.
This is legislation immutable by any vote.
And what of situations outside the laws of nature? Hit by car. Mauled by cat. Trapped in chimney or attic. Unconscious after a plummet from a tree. Death as a result of an unrelentingly virulent pox.
Here, nature steps aside as humans transform the scene – either as cause of the distress, or as rescuer from its clutches. Suffering, no longer invisible, gains a face, possessing eyes that radiate with pain. And so rehabbers and vets do their best. So do well-meaning passers-by, who intervene at curbside with the shelter of a cardboard box, the comfort of an old T-shirt, the power of their compassion and prayers.
We cannot see them all. We cannot save them all. But for all of them, and especially for all of those we shall never know, we wish them mercy.