Last night, after working a 13 hour security shift at Six Flags, a deer struck me on the way home. Saw her a split second before her poor head hit the wheel well just above my front passenger tire. Luckily, I didn’t lose control of mighty Nago, my “strong and beautiful” SUV (if you’ve seen the movie Princess Mononoke, you might get the reference).
At the next exit (Pacific), I pulled over to assess the damage and call the state highway patrol. Two dents, and a line of fur (but no blood) gave me the hope she’d only been struck a glancing blow and might’ve made it to safety, but I still felt the need to call lest she did expire in a lane on the highway and cause another accident.
It’s a strange paradox, that I’ve remembered and regretted every animal I’ve ever accidentally struck or killed with my vehicle, yet have fewer qualms about injury or fatality to certain human beings. Though I’m well acquainted with firearms, I don’t hunt and never have. I’ve taken pains to move insects and animals outside rather than merely kill them for inconveniently being in my abode.
But I’ve criticized animal rights extremists for caring more for animals than human beings, or erroneously treating them as though they had equal rights or dignity. What then makes my own feelings on this matter different? Have I too little respect for the “image and likeness of God” in which even a person like Saddam Hussein was made?
Perhaps it has to do with innocence and free will. Animals do not choose to be evil, and every one I’ve inadvertently injured was doing nothing more than follow its nature. The tragedy is that they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s a very different thing than willfully choosing to act against one’s God-given dignity and nature and perpetrate horrible evils against others. God gave us the ability to become something other than what He is–we can make ourselves into monsters. Hence one of the few things Nietzsche got right, “Those who would hunt monsters should beware, lest they become monsters themselves.”
I hope the poor doe isn’t suffering, and I’m grateful to have walked away from the encounter without injury.