13 April 2012
Justice for Luca
His only crime was that he was born a baby squirrel. Being wild, helpless, orphaned and alone were reasons enough for him to be cruelly targeted.
In the eyes of those who would willfully hurt animals and need any justification at all, another's innocence and defenselessness will often suffice. The little squirrel possessed both traits and, because of that, was doomed at his assailants' hands and at the mercy of their feet.
Judged guilty of his crime, the squirrel was sentenced: And so it began, the prodding, the badgering, the kicking. These predators, overwhelmingly larger than the few ounces they sought to destroy, were little more than youngsters themselves: Human children engaged in an act, not borne of indifference but deliberate cruelty.
But he is alive today. One person stood between this baby and certain slow death. An observant rescuer stopped to save him - one small squirrel in a vast, busy city - and his rescuer found someone who could harbor him and heal him.
And now Luca - so named by the New York City wildlife rehabilitator who took him in and is helping his battered body recover - is safe.
It is a privilege to read the story of his rescue and recovery since then, as told through social media such as Facebook. One look into his bright eyes, as seen in the earliest photos his loving caretaker has shared, says he is not ready to give up on the world, even though he fell into it long before he was equipped to meet its challenges. One look into his bright eyes says he is ready to meet those challenges now because he is not doing it alone. He has someone in his corner and he can get down to the business of being a baby squirrel again.
His body is healing but his spirit - you can see it in his eyes - never once suffered from those deadly blows.
If wanting to be alive, even in a cruel world, is indeed a crime, then perhaps Luca is guilty of something after all. But then so are we, the ones who lift up their bruised bodies, cradle them gently in our palms, then help them get on with their lives.