Today, I saw a woman pulled over on the side of the road, and I saw her bending, near a curb, looking helpless and pleading.
“Ma’am, do you need help?” I asked, rolling the window down. “Yes!” she screamed. “Yes!”
I jumped from the backseat, after Nic pulled over, and his cousin followed me to the side of the street. We approached the woman, who was staring at a mother duck, as she stood nearby, waiting for her ducklings to make it up an incline. They were not faring well.
The bravest little duckling of them all went jump! and then fell where he’d begun, so he prepped his webbed feet and flew up again. Again, failure.
“THEY’LL NEVER MAKE IT UP THERE!” she screamed. The mother duck, perturbed with our presence and in obvious distress, spun in circles, waiting to see where her babies were.
Then, with a swipe of his hand, Nic’s cousin Jim lifted one tiny baby duckling’s butt into the air, and deposited it onto the grass above the curb. I did exactly as he did. I grabbed a baby duckling butt myself, then he two, and three, me two, and three, and mere seconds later, the whole duck family left as a unit.
We all stepped back, directly into traffic, to watch them waddle off. I touched the woman’s shoulder. “Thank you for looking out for them,” I said. “Thank you so much for stopping for them.”
Tonight, I saw some news headlines that made my stomach turn. Rancid acts by humans. Gut-twisting sickness. Innocent animals, blameless babies. Wronged. Beaten. Murdered. I think back to the most horrific stories I’ve ever heard, I let poison creep all through my head, I throw fire on my hatred for humans.
Yet it was a human, on her way home, who stopped in the middle of the road today for a momma duckling and her brood. Another human stopped the car I was in. Another one jumped out with me. And our human hands scooped up tiny, furry butts and tossed them to their mother.
As we drove off, I said a prayer. That every next human, behind the wheel of a car, that spotted them, would treat them with the same love and grace. I shut my eyes, in true, true hope. While in some other place, another defenseless being suffered in ways I cannot imagine, I used all my energy to pray for this little gaggle. I wondered how many blocks they would make it, before someone crushed the last in line so that he could get through a yellow light, on his way to nowhere.
We, the beautiful. The ugly. The brave. The conflicted.
We, the People.