The dropping of a single smooth stone into still water changes everything.
When the world around changes into a place no longer serene and predictable, indeed no longer safe, no two souls will react in the same way. There is only one consistency: nothing is ever the same. Fear changes all. Every molecule of existence becomes shifting sand.
Do I speak of murder? Of rape? Of child abuse? Of assault? Yes. And no.
I speak of all of these things and more. I speak of lost innocence to dreamers, of cruelty to the helpless, of all of the loss of illusion that there exists a kind and gentle world without flaws, where every creature is accepted for what it is and no one bullies or attacks those freedoms of spirit that allow for endless expansion of all positive forms of hope. I speak of evil and of the helpless who cry out in silence from a darkness only they are all too often aware of being caught in.
You know what I speak of. Yes, you do. There is no creature on this earth that has not seen injustice done to it.
The bitter cold stone has been thrown endless times since the beginning of life as we know it. Ironically, such a strike is applied the most and hardest without any real thought. Those who suffer by it are often without blame in the incident.
The most careless abusers apply ‘the sins of the fathers’ to their victims in just such a way. They have seen such things done without repercussions, so they think they can do the same with equal absolution. The problem with that thinking is that no target or victim is bulletproof in whole. The harm done may be invisible to the naked eye, and yet fester beneath the surface of what appears to be calm waters, causing in turn its own turmoil and hidden damages. What has been self-defense becomes an outright attack when viewed from another angle. There seems to be no stopping place for such abuse; it escalates and passes on to another generation unless conscious thought brings it to a halt with extreme care.
We are not creatures of inheritance by genes alone; we are also inheritors of an environment and of the effects of that environment.
Every time we come into contact with any other entity, we teach it something. We are all teachers. We pass along our own learning in some way more often than we know we do.
Years of working among animals can teach many things. It can teach a world of immense cruelty or a world of truth, for animals do not know how to lie… unless they are taught to do so. It can teach a person how to see things from more than one perspective, from more than one angle, and even from many sides at once. Animals are great teachers, patient, self-sacrificing for the good of the greater number, and they’re also fatalists: if it cannot be changed, so be it. Life goes on, pain being the least of one’s worries.
To see an old man, the lines on his face showing the milestones of a life spent in struggle to merely survive and protect those he has loved, bent low over the worn handles of a steel plow, to see the trace chains swinging their metallic song against the sides of a weary mule whose sweating sides are no less labored than the man’s, is to see a quiet battle against the odds. No whip, no spur, is as powerful as that of mere existence in a world imperfect, yet filled with those who each take up a small part of that labor.
To see a dog offer to give its life for its human pack member, asking nothing more than to be a member of a group that would have it as such, is a thing of gentle remonstrance against those who prefer selfish cause. To profit at the expense of those who love without judgment, without blame, and with true faith in receiving the same, is the nearest to true generosity that can be seen by the human eye.
We each live to belong. To a community of some kind, from family to tribe to nation to race to species to planetary resident, and even, perhaps, beyond.
This is our personal haunting. This is our aim from birth to death, to know that we have lived a good life and seen things change for the better during that time. To think that silence is action, that change will come around and the powers of good prevail, simply because we believe in it and not because we took action on something ugly, and made a decision that was perhaps as ugly as the cause itself. This is our ultimate innocence.
Only not one of us is ever truly innocent. We only fight to create a way to let that innocence exist. And so, we cast ourselves into the stillness, with hope held like a spear.