Letter to the Editor: Events not expected
My family is relatively new in town, though I understand that anything less than a couple decades may actually be considered by some to be "relatively new". Adding to the "newness" for me is the fact that this is my first time residing in a rural area. I had pretty high hopes. I spent four decades in various other places in the country, all of which share a claim of being pretty big cities. I came here hoping to find quiet serenity and to make new life-long friends. I came here with an expectation of personal safety and peace.
One night a couple of weeks ago, someone let our horses out of their corral, stole the chains that kept the gate closed, and the tarp, and the water hose (which allowed us to get water into the buckets without hauling water from Price to Kenilworth). They also opened the water line full blast and let it run all night. But the thing that disturbed me the most was the fact that they opened the gate, made a trail of hay to lure the horses out, and also put several big rocks right along where the gate would have been if it had been closed, intentionally trying to make the horses trip on them on the way out and get hurt. The horses were pretty new on that land, so they would have been hurt, in the dark, wandering all night, and close to Kenilworth Road with the cars going 50 plus miles per hour.
As it was, the horses were fine, did not get hurt on the rocks, and must have stayed near the corral. Some construction workers found them the next morning, turned the water off, and took the time to figure out who the horses belonged to and call us.
While living in Los Angeles, 20 years ago, I was the victim of a personal attack. It left me feeling invaded, doubtful about humanity, weary from the constant heightened level of awareness and alert I had to project from that day forward. But never in my life, including that incident, have I felt more personally attacked and bereft than I did that day, right here in our local community. You see, those antics seemed somehow even more personal to me, more full of maliciousness.
In Los Angeles, one adjusts to a certain level of seclusion among masses, almost unthinkingly incorporates personal security measures, and begins to make a subtle shift toward self-preservation, mentally as well as physically. I worked with six year old children, the age of my own daughter now, who learned in first grade how to respond to "gang alert" drills. This noise signaled gang warfare had broken out and they were to crawl under their desks and cover their heads. I left Los Angeles many years ago, though I still carry with me that indelible image scorched upon my mind. My perspective is that no six year old should have to be made aware of such issues. They should, indeed, be insulated just a while longer.
Unfortunately, there seems to be no such way to salvage the events that occurred and the powerful lessons that were subsequently heaved upon us. We also had the unsavory privilege of learning new emotion-vocabulary words. We have spent years talking about emotions and emotional climate, so we were especially alert to this aspect of our lesson. We were presented with the opportunity to truly learn through feeling: helplessness, frustration, fear, anger, deep-seated angst, confusion, emotional hurt, torment, anxiety and sorrow.
To me what is the most devastating aspect of this entire incident is the crushed spirit of my daughter, and her new awareness of the total lack of regard for life that some people embody, something I have actively sheltered her from to this point. The lack of trust and security with which we will now move forward is disheartening. When people ask me how I liked living in Los Angeles all those years ago, I say that while it was good to have done it, I am glad to not be raising my children there. And yet, here we are, 20 years later in what claimed to be a quiet, yet diverse and accepting, close-knit community. Today, however, I feel personally far more attacked than I ever did in Los Angeles. There, I expected it, here, I did not.
Yesterday, in our continued processing, we came to one question that I was unable to answer for my daughter. The first question in six years that I've left inadequately answered. She asked it, 11 times throughout the day. "Mommy, I just don't understand why anyone would behave in such a way that would hurt animals and people on purpose." After many attempts at words that somehow seemed to satisfy neither her inquisitiveness nor her underlying concerns about humanity, I struggled to stifle my own feelings of inadequacy for failing to protect her sensitive spirit and sweet, innocent soul. Finally, I said simply, "I don't know, Halie. I just don't know." And then, in desperation, I added "But I do feel compassion for them, that they have chosen frustration, anger and maliciousness as their path in life instead of actively choosing joy, compassion and kindness. The choice is theirs to make. The choice is all of ours."