I am the adventurous child that feels safe enough in the world to climb over a fence and into the world of a caged gorilla at the zoo.

 

I am the gorilla that reacts with instincts that are at once tender and frightened.

 

I am the zookeeper that must respond quickly, with their best judgment, to the unfolding drama, in a way that serves the highest good.

 

I am the sharp shooter that pulls the trigger and releases the bullet that ends the gorilla’s life.

 

I am the parent of the adventurous child that clutches their racing heart and holds their churning stomach.

 

I am the bystander in the crowd that screams in fright and dismay, unable to look away.

 

I am the adventurous child that looks into the eyes of the gorilla and then feels their self being lifted, tossed, and dragged – their flesh being scraped and torn.

 

I am the gorilla that feels the flashing pain of a piercing bullet and feels the life force drain out of their body.

 

I am the parent of the child that watches, helplessly.

 

I am the zookeeper that must live with the consequences of their decision, being forever more questioned, and even reviled for their gut-wrenching choice.

 

I am the child whose life is now marked by a terror no one else will ever understand.

 

I am the parent whose life is now marked by a terror and a guilt no one else will ever understand, a parent whose life is now marked by public scorn.

 

I am the bystander that now must make sense of what I have witnessed.

 

I am the member of the public at large that now must wrestle with moral and ethical issues I had not considered before, issues of valuing one life over another, issues of freedom and individual agency, issues of responsibility for and protection of those entrusted to our care.

 

I am the person whose heart is broken open by a tragedy beyond anyone’s wildest imagination.

 

I am the person that rushes to judgment and finds some comfort in assigning blame.

 

I am the person that must live in this world where there are no easy answers, where people just like me are called to respond to circumstances that I have only visited in my worst nightmares.

 

I am the person that finds within myself a capacity for compassion and an embrace for ambiguity that stretches me into the fullness of what it means to be human.

 

 

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