by Jesse Loren
A dog adopts a chimpanzee after its mother dies at the zoo. You see we — and I do mean living creatures that need to be raised by an adult, whether we are dog, cat, or human — we are programmed to receive.
When I was born, I was.
I was born four minutes before my sister, each of us with different health issues, each with a spark of life that impelled us to live. We were atheists. We knew the pain and joy of breath compelled us to exhale and inhale. Strangers cleaned us. Strangers loved us and became family. We knew our mother’s voice. Chimp, dog, sister, we are programmed thusly.
We didn’t have to learn to love or breathe, we already were love and breath. It didn’t take belief or catechism, instructions or coddling.
We were hungry and we ate. We were thirsty and we drank.
We did not know hate. We did not know rage. We did not know clan, tribe, color, other, boundary, border or politic.
We looked at shapes, we looked at faces. We tried to move muscles, those heavy, foreign muscles in a new found gravity. We flailed. We turned. We found our toes and they were good.
My toes, my thighs, your thighs, were perfect in every way.
This butt, that butt, none were too big or too small. We slept a lot.
You and me, we smiled when a song was sung to us. We cooed and bubbled at attention. The pain of breath left and we were only love and breath.
Our parents’ pride was in our health. Our parents’ devotion was in keeping our health. Some of us had new parents.
Sometime, society snuck in and said we had to be initiated into the mythos of our families. We learned about the “other.” We were not born with the mythos, but we were programed to receive.
Sometime, society snuck in and said we had to look a certain look, and be initiated into the mythos of objectification. The girl child would be objectified, the male child would be approving. We would learn our place in the mythical order of society. We would pledge allegiance. The dog should chase the cat. The chimp should sleep in the tree.
The pain of politics was a noose slowly closing in on knowing.
When I was born I was not part of heaven or hell. I was programmed to learn the cultural landscape of my bed. Hate came from society. Discrimination was learned. A righteous man in a suit said what was holy, even though I was closer to holy than he was.
When we were born, we were all love, all breath, all the universe wrapped up in the innocence of trust. Each of us must ask, “What of that trust? What have we done with it? What have we done for it? How far have we moved from innocence? What will we do for it in the future?”