Curtain Raiser

Cruel Humans & a Kind Gorilla, Colltalers

A puzzling issue about the Trump administration is its steady support by some 30% of Americans. Among them, yes, the uneducated, left out of the so called American Dream ring strong. But what’s with his approval by professional women? and what about organized religion?
The week was yet another sample of savage chaos disguised as policy, with reports of detained immigrant children who may never see their parents again matched by an executive order that doesn’t solve the problem but was sold as such. And then there was the passing of Koko.
The 46-year old female gorilla, who’d learned sign language and thousands of English words, became a symbol of the movement to recognize animal rights. In the process, she proved what was already empirically known: that they not only think but have a complex emotional life.
We’ll get back to that but first let’s wonder for a while what makes a large contingent of independent, highly educated and successful women support a bully who even before being elected was a known sexual predator, caught on tape saying terrible things, to get into office partially with their vote? Unlike the now proverbial typical Trump supporter, white, poor, underachiever, and angry, they did have a choice in 2016.
Even more startling, albeit arguably easier to contextualize, is the large church-going crowd of Christians, who should be raving mad about the un-Christian policies the president has enforced, the company he seeks, his mean-spirited public persona and, of course, personal history.
We’re not getting on the merit of religious denominations, leaving that moot debate to those who really believe that there differences, or even sense among the god fearing. But it’s disturbing to watch how religious leaders, whose flocks reach into the millions, are keeping quiet about the administration’s absolute lack of charitable spirit towards the poor, immigrants, and people of color – obviously not mentioning sex minorities.
Wouldn’t be that a basic, fundamental, non-negotiable condition to be considered a follower of Jesus Christ, to be kind with the dispossessed, equal with the oppressed, loving to one another? After all, isn’t that what the man himself preached, and got killed for, all those years ago?
We’re not talking about the monsters who call themselves preachers and ostensibly demand that their followers pitch in to fund the costs of their newest personal jets, or blockwide mansions – usually closed to shelter natural disaster victims as it happened – for those are beyond redemption. Their psychopathic reasoning

should be grounds for at least close scrutiny from authorities, if not the full rigors of the law.
What we’re seeing, though, is regular, yes, law-abiding citizens, who claimed to know their scriptures and follow the teachings of the good book to a fault, being completely oblivious to the fate of millions of fellow Americans. And worst, volunteering to offer ways to justify them.
Perhaps is no coincidence, given the example of hatred towards dissent, the free press, former ally nations, and foreigners in general, coming from the White House, the rise of calls to police, based on racism and xenophobia. And business denying doing what they’re established for, that is, business, in the name of a fascist code, which encourages name naming and intervention into the lives of others, just out of suspicion.
No wonder so many see signs of the pre-Nazi Germany, or Italy during WWII, when citizens would be abducted by security forces and taken, to be never seen again. And the fear of being singled out for refusing to go along with the crowd or criticizing the president or government.
The president’s lies are a case in itself, as day after day since even before he got elected, he’s been lying to the American people, lying about the real purpose of his many acts and actions, or lack thereof, in office. As it was in the case of tax cuts he orchestrated with the help of Republicans in Congress, that represented a multibillion-dollar savings package to the very rich and corporations, and a big hole in the budget.
And yet, he insisted then and ever, that it’d benefit working families. And some actually believe it! Excuse me for that redundant exclamation point, but it’s hard to express the significance of lying to such a level, since it really hurts, and in some cases, it kills people, as a consequence.
Instead of more Rev. William Barbers and others, who are leading the Poor People’s Campaign, ‘a national call for a moral revival’ in America, we see more apologists to the discretionary, and downright un-American, policies pursued by the administration. Again, let’s not even mention dictators and tyrants who, instead of the underprivileged of this country, always receive a word of sympathy from the president. Any moment now, we should expect a tweet or two praising Turkish President Recep Erdogan, for his latest election ‘victory.’ Just like Trump was all praise to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, and noticeably vague about the agreement they’ve signed. Was it also a lie? I’m shocked.
Humanity, of the highest level, empathy, heartbreaking grief, and unvarnished love, of the kind no one will ever expect from the president, his family and cabinet, most GOP officials, and a large percentage of mankind, was aplenty during the meaningful life of Hanabiko ‘Koko.’
When she blissful died in her sleep at her Santa Cruz Mountains home, in California, she ended a generous collaboration that helped us better understand her species and, along with it, our own. Born in the San Francisco Zoo, she may be instrumental for finally end all animal captivity for entertainment and profit. Taught the use of language, she quickly learned to convey not just verbal but emotional cues about her existence.
For beyond her intellectual prowess, what she went through in life, and how she pull it through, was a gift of knowledge and insight into her species, and us. I remember when it was reported that, heartbroken for losing a baby, she adopted a kitten. And when she too die, Koko wept.
She was sad for the loss of a lifetime companion when she met the comedian Robin Williams and the resulting tape of the two together is, in his own words, ‘mind altering.’ When told of his unexpected death, she was reported in deep grieving, just like pretty much the rest of the world.
Now, it’s our turn to feel personally hurt by her loss as we somehow rely upon and depend on the existence of loved ones, even when not in direct contact with them. When we see or learn they’re no longer with us in this lonely world, a part of us also departs. We used to call that being human but it’s obvious such feelings are not our monopoly. But Koko learning language was not without criticism and controversy.
After all, scientific research into animals has been used mostly to harm them, to gain insights to better control them. Also there’s the pull of anthropomorphism, to see the world as a mere reflection of us, and disregard the complexities, and utter differences of animals and humans.
Through it all, however, Koko’s life and those who handled and cared for her did much more good than harm, and will benefit the welfare of irrational (?) beings. In fact, an entire new vocabulary will need to be invented so not to confuse what they are and do, with our own species.
It’s being a month to be proud of the difference, of inclusion and acceptance of what we are, as with the LGBQ community-inspired spirit of tolerance and love. What we’ve learned with Koko is the same of what’s being reminded on Pride Month in the U.S. Despite the Trump brand of indifference toward human suffering, we’re still committed into getting better, as persons, people and nations. R.I.P. Koko, we’ve heard you. WC


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