Saturday, October 17, 2009

Give Up Every Preconceived Notion

We all remember Koko, the gorilla, holding the kitten. Posters hung everywhere reflecting a loving wild animal, but not telling the complete story. Here is a story I wrote after watching a show about Koko.

She knows how to love, how to express sadness, how to paint beautifully expressive pictures. She knows how to tease, she desires a child, she participated in video dating to find her mate.

One Sunday morning I passed by the TV to see what my dog, Sadie, was watching. Yes, the dog was watching TV. An hour later I moved on. Sometimes a series of incidence coincide giving a strange sensation that it is more than coincidence.

Two nights before I had watched the movie, "Instinct", a good movie about a man most considered crazed who stepped away from his life to live among the gorillas he studied. Now here I was two days later watching a documentary on Koko, a gorilla raised in captivity learning to sign a vocabulary of over 1,000 words. A gorilla who taught as well as learned.

The first mate chosen for Koko was Michael. They didn't end up mates but more like siblings. The story of Koko paused to focus on Michael, who developed a signing vocabulary of over 500 words.

Caregivers were quite surprised when Michael began signing the story of his captivity. He had seen his mother killed and mutilated then carried away by poachers. He signed, "mother-flat".

I always loved animals and thought myself to be an animal rights activist who wasn't very active but who cared. After this revelation I asked myself who really was the animal. Where have we missed the boat? How many things do we take for granted, because we fail to understand that there is so much more? Did you know that gorillas have compatible blood types with humans? Did you know that they cry tears and mourn as deeply as we do? Did you know that they are endangered?

Something changed in me that Sunday morning. Something that has to do with where we've come from and where we are going. Maybe I can't make a big difference, but I can pass the story on to others.

Sit down before fact as a little child. Be prepared to give up every preconceived notion......

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