When you think about it, it’s pretty amazing that we only ask Americans for one day to think about the hundreds of thousands of Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice.
We devote just one day a year to remember all those who lost their lives in combat over the last 240 years so that we could enjoy the freedoms and liberties that we have today.
So, when Memorial Day came and went yesterday, I was at least heartened to see the national conversation consumed by … a gorilla?
By now you’ve all heard this story. After a 4-year-old boy somehow meandered his way into a gorilla enclosure at a zoo in Cincinnati, zookeepers shot and killed Harambe, a 420-pound silverback gorilla, a critically endangered species who just one day earlier had celebrated his 17th birthday.
Video of the gorilla dragging the child as if its a rag doll made its way to the Internet, and it’s sparked a firestorm of emotion from people everywhere, including Facebook pages and online petitions demanding justice for the gorilla.
Witnesses at the scene, meanwhile, have said that the situation was handled as well as it could be, given the impossible circumstances.
In the video, it looks almost as if the gorilla was protecting the boy. At the very least, he certainly doesn’t appear to be treating him as a threat. That is, until all of the screaming and commotion above him from spectators inevitably disoriented the gorilla and caused him to pick up the toddler and violently carry him around his habitat.
No matter how much you want to deny it, the sheer strength and power of that gorilla could have easily killed that boy.
It’s just a terrible thing that happened because now an innocent gorilla is dead. And we’ve seen the amazing universal reaction that could manifest when animals are wronged.
It’s really one of those things where it’s hard to place blame. The child apparently slipped through barriers that hadn’t been breached in the exhibit’s 38-year-existence, and the zoo officials acted to save the kid’s life.
It just sucks. I think we could all be sad for the gorilla, without bearing hatred or angst to any particular entity. People will want to blame the parents, and maybe they are at fault, but don’t act like it’s easy to keep an eye on your child for every waking moment. It was an accident. And a tragic one, at that.
Plus, Cincinnati police are investigating the matter. So let’s await their findings before we start the hash tag #JusticeForHarambe.
For once, let’s try not to whip out the pitchforks and look for someone to punish. Let’s just remember the life of a gorilla who died in a freak circumstance, sadly, for simply being who he is.
And to make up for it, let’s take the rest of this week (at least) to also honor our nation’s fallen veterans. We owe that and you know it.
Harambe means “Pull together” in Swahili.
We could all honor this gorilla by Harambe-ing more often.