Compassion

I have always been attracted to Buddhism. I think its doctrine of compassion and non-violence and the acknowledgement of suffering is beautiful and amazing and so . . . Ideal.

But it’s stories like THIS that remind me I would be a shit Buddhist.

I can look at the piece of shit that stabbed Rocco, the Pittsburgh Police K-9 officer, and, logically, rationally, I can think, “that is a person whose life has most likely not been easy, has probably lacked a substantial amount of the privilege I’ve had, and who is operating within the context of his own experiences and limitations, none of which I can grasp.” And so I understand, on a very rational level, that I should feel compassion for him, and that doing so by no means requires me to excuse his actions. After all, everyone makes mistakes–the size and scope of which are often dictated by our personal context. Thus, some mistakes are considerably larger and more life altering than others. It isn’t my business to decide who is worthy of redemption or forgiveness. It isn’t my business to decide who is worthy of compassion; I recognize that we all should be worthy.

But here’s the thing: I don’t care. Hell, I don’t even want to care. Toss him in a cage, feed him or don’t, kill him or don’t. I do not give one teeny tiny fraction of a shit about his suffering or his disposition henceforth, save that–quite contrary to my reason–I’d actually prefer that he suffer in some fashion, for a very, very long time.

I feel this way about every person who intentionally harms or abuses an animal. Where animals are concerned, I am an anti-Buddhist: kill them all. Make them all suffer. Whatever. Just bring the pain. Critter abuse speaks to the basest parts of my consciousness. Visit upon them exactly the hurt that they inflicted.

It’s all a bit cognitively dissonant for me, considering I’m against capital punishment. But I suspend that aversion where animals are concerned. How? What justifications could I possibly provide for asserting that a human who kills another human should not be killed, but a human that harms an animal should not only be killed, but they should be sent to Guantanamo, first?

I don’t have an answer to that. I have never had an answer to that, despite considerable soul searching for one. I recognize that my feelings on animal cruelty will never, ever reconcile with my rational mind and . . . I don’t care. I feel the way I feel about it, and I will admit that I probably shouldn’t feel that way, but I do and it’s so strong I recognize that, even if I wanted to, it would be very near impossible for me to change those feelings, to elevate them. And I just don’t want to. Not enough. I am, for better or worse, entirely comfortable with directing unholy hate rays at people who harm critters.

There’s a whole other discussion woven into this one, about the value of life and whether or not I value critters over humans, but that’s another philosophical waxing for another day. I think my ranking system, as it were, is a bit more nuanced. But I will not hide or apologize for the–some might say–extremity of my views. I feel this way. And I’m ok with it.

Run free, Rocco.

Now fry the asshat who killed him.