Most of us are aware of the tragedy that occurred at the Cincinnati Zoo last weekend. A small child strayed from his mother and accidentally ended up in the gorilla exhibit. Although at first it looked as if the boy was being protected by the gorilla, Harambe also acted erratic at times. The choice to kill the endangered species male gorilla has sparked worldwide responses running the gamut. Animal rights activists are furious, zoo professionals such as Jack Hanna have explained the futility of a tranquilizer gun in such cases, the parents have received death threats and are under police investigation. Articles have been written about the value of saving a human life over that of an animal, even if endangered.  Are child leashes the answer? Are accidents inevitable?  Life happens .  .  .


At the end of the day, a human life was saved at the expense of Harambe’s. The many opinions come from hearts of passion and concern for what is right for humanity. In such cases where there is no unambiguous answer or at least one not subject to debate, where does the dialogue lead us? Many of us have already developed strong opinions on this particular topic since personal opinions about animal rights formulate from a young age and may change and grow as we mature. On issues such as this, for young people who are still developing their belief systems, heartfelt conversation, if without recrimination, can be very beneficial.


Robust dialogue is fine, for even on issues that we feel we have resolved, fresh incidents remind us of the important emotions attached to these beliefs. Though painful, we re-engage viscerally with our human wiring. The story pulled us away from our rational endeavor at the moment of reading or seeing the news and ignited compassion, anger, sadness.


So let’s focus on the recrimination aspect. If this set of facts presented no win-win, then to what avail is blame? If there is no clear rational choice, for any option posed the possible loss of life of one of HaShem’s created beings, no matter where you stand on the divinity of either, then how can Monday morning quarterbacking help in any way? Perhaps the lesson to take away is a reminder that we are not to judge. In life, many tough choices are not black-and-white, especially an extreme such as this which involved the taking of a life. Regardless of the merits, especially in cases so emotionally charged and wrought with moral dilemma, perhaps acting with compassion to model God’s grace is the challenge.


I’m not saying to be passionless about what you believe in. And I’m not saying to give up the fight to change the status quo or to stand back in the face of injustice or defense of others. What I am suggesting is to engage deeply, be firm in your convictions, and at the same time be more than just aware that yours is not the only opinion. At those times when you are most confronted by a seemingly unresolvable situation, recognize that life is not always fair, outcomes are not always clear, and let His grace pour over you and over those intimately involved as you remember Yeshua on the cross, a situation clearly unjust at the time. Only in HaShem’s time did the facts make sense.


Walking with our Messiah Yeshua in the silent suffering of what went down may be the road less traveled, the road closer to Him.


Shabbat shalom.



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