You Can’t Just Walk Away

Nicole - Hudsonville, Michigan
Entered on January 27, 2009

Fear and light danced in those glittering black eyes. They were like blasts of obsidian, forever peering into the corridors of my soul. The opossum put on a brave act: the hair on its back stood as straight as razors and its fangs dripped with anger. Somewhere beyond this bitter mask lay something far more noble. Innocence, like an uncut diamond, unappreciated and unloved. The kind of innocence blessed only upon a spirit uncorrupted by arrogance.

“Dude, stick your fingers in there” a voice, with ignorance, resounded. I snapped back to reality, turning to look over at the two boys (both of them were at the brink of manhood, but yet I will call them boys, for this is the title they deserved.) They should have outgrown this twisted game long ago.

“No way, Man. You do it. I don’t want to get no rabies,” replied the second, just as foolish as his friend. A dissonant clanging erupted as the villains began to kick the metal cage. The sadistic trap seemed to have anchored the creature’s body as easily as it had pinned its soul. The opossum hissed, drawing its bloody stump of a tail closer to its body.

“God, it’s so ugly,” one of them whispered, poking at the cage, “I could pull out my .22 and nail ‘em in the head for bein’ so dang ugly.”

I couldn’t agree more. The opossum was a horrific sight, with its beady eyes and rat-like body, I might even consider it repulsive. But what had it ever done to deserve death? Beauty, after all, is a relative thing.

I struggled to understand how two people could be so terribly clueless. These boys weren’t dealing with a toy to be mutilated and thrown away, this was the essence of the natural world, a being filled with life and mind. Who gave them the right to take that away? What sense of superiority allowed them to think that their wants could override this creature’s unwritten rights?

This I believe: Life is an invaluable gift. Taking a life out of sheer pleasure is simply an act of arrogance. How else can you defend inflicting pain without purpose? If there is no reason to kill, what deems one worthy enough to do so? You have the right to live peacefully. Nobody should be able to take that away from you. This rule is an unconditional one that extends its reach to all whose heartbeats provide the rhythm for this eternal dance.

The whispers of vain deaths will always ravage our land, but even one life is worth fighting for. We must become the guardians of our own morals. This means holding each other to high standards, for if we allow this decay to eat away at the foundation of purity any longer, who knows what our society could become. In other words: you can’t just walk away.

Unfortunately, that was exactly what I did. Although the pity condensing in my heart was not enough to force me to act, it ignited a philosophy that has illuminated the path I walk today. Days will fade away and I will forget the way the wind sang as it weaved through sweet rushes and reeds, the way the smell of pine pireoutted around one’s mouth, the way the way the iridescent splash of the autumn leaves seemed to bleed onto the cloud-pocked sky, but I never will forget those coal black eyes.