It’s true what they say, you know: it’s easy to grow hard with age. To become mean and callous.
I see it in myself every day. It’s evident in the way I slow down at stop lights, hoping to avoid getting stuck in the inside lane where, if I wanted to, I could reach out and touch the homeless people begging on the neutral ground. I could even give them the spare change sitting on my dashboard. But I don’t.
The funny thing is, I’ve never behaved that way toward animals. (With the exception of cockroaches. And a few frogs when I was younger, but that’s a story for another time.) If I see a dog or a cat or a bird or a lizard, my instinct isn’t to swat it away, but to watch it. Maybe even to protect it.
Secretly, I think that response has something to do with the bullying I endured as a gay kid, growing up in Mississippi. I don’t like to see anyone or anything pushed around just because he/she/it is smaller or weaker or different.
Then again, maybe it’s because I grew up with three younger brothers. I would never have admitted it at the time, but…