Watching the video of the silverback gorilla Harmbe dragging that 3 year old child around his enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo is heart breaking. My heart broke for the mother of that child who had to witness these events taking place and is now facing a shit storm of abuse from the pitchfork carrying public who blame her for Harmbe’s ultimate demise. Could that have been one of my boys? You bet your ass.
I have three sons currently aged 2.5, 4.5 and 7 and I have lost track of each and every one of them at some point in their existence. Just last week my 2.5 year old left my older son’s school on his own while his brother took my attention away from him for less than a minute. One time when my oldest son was around 3 years old a kindly stranger escorted him back into the county playground after he had left out of the opposite gate that his brother and I were near. This is why they say it takes a village to raise a child, because they lack a healthy sense of self preservation and will constantly get themselves into bad situations in literally a blink of an eye.
It is media events like these that really make me despise the internet and all of it’s hate slinging. I understand people are upset over the death of Harmbe but the fact is, this was a freak accident. It is sad Harmbe died as a result of it but thankfully the child is ok. This is also not the same kind of situation like that of Cecil the lion where Walter Palmer payed an exorbitant amount of money to intentionally hunt and kill a beloved protected creature on protected lands, yet the outrage on both accounts seems to be the same. I am curious as to what these resulting petitions for “justice” gain anyone? Does taking to the internet to proclaim your disgust about someone you do not know from a hole in the wall, who probably is already feeling pretty horrible at the moment make you feel better about yourself and the situation as a whole?
Bunmi Laditan who writes The Honest Toddler makes a great point in her Facebook posts regarding this incident where she questions the valuing of the life of the animal over the lives of our fellow human beings. She points out the discrepancies of those who eat meat and devalue the lives of cows, pigs and chickens yet who show extreme emotion over what the experts are calling the necessary death of a silverback gorilla in this particular chain of events.
For me it comes down to empathy. I watch the video and I can imagine what it would feel like if that was my son, but what if that was one of your children who made their way into the enclosure, who was being dragged through the water? How horrifying would that be for you? How much blame would you already place on yourself without the assistance of the public? How much would your life change in those moments and all that come after? I feel like there was a time when the boy being saved would have been celebrated by the public, but those times are long gone along with the village, and in place we are left with the modern day solitary confinement of motherhood. Take this event as a warning mothers, don’t dare screw up, especially in public, because you will be burned at the virtual stake.