I was driving down I-65 the other day and saw a horrible accident- a kitten had been hit and was in the final stages of dying. I just started bawling and somehow made it to my parents work place before I pulled over and just sobbed for several minutes straight. After I stopped and got myself back under control, I was reminded of an experience that I had in China my first year. It was my first major bus ride across the city and on my way, I saw a woman who had been hit by a bus. I assume that she was dead because she was lying in such an awkward position and nobody was trying to help her. The bus that had hit her was empty and a traffic cop was directing cars around the scene (one of the only times I ever saw a police man actually doing something). Yet while I was in shock, I did not grieve over this woman as I grieved over that kitten.
I did not cry when I saw this broken woman yet many questions and emotions raced through me. Who was she? Did she have family or friends who would miss her? Why didn't she see the bus? Regret at the life lost. Wondering what she believed- whether it was just a life lost or a soul as well? Horror at seeing a person lying dead in the road. Shame that nobody covered her as she lay there with her skirt up around her waist. Shame that she had been given no dignity in death. And shame that I did not stop, did not get off the bus even if I couldn't speak the language.
After the kitten accident, in these past few days, I have been thinking and comparing the two situations. Both the kitten and the woman had been hit in an accident yet I cried over the animal and not the human. I wanted to know why and I think that I've realized a kitten represents innocence to me. It's defenseless and weak. The woman was middle aged and had the choice to cross the street as the bus was turning. She knew better while a kitten would not necessarily know. She knew better. She knew the risks she was taking crossing the street without a pedestrian crossing light. She took an action and actions have consequences, something that she unfortunately learned the hard way.
This is something I'm going to have to do some more thinking on. I'm still shock and rather embarrassed that I grieved over the kitten more than the woman. Maybe it was a wake up call to care more about my fellow human beings. I'm just not sure. More thoughts to come...