If you have spent any time on the internet recently, I’m sure you have heard about Harambre, the 17 year old gorilla that was killed because a child fell into the enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo. (You can read the latest news, as of May 29, 2016, here.) Personally I’m completely appalled at the internet’s reactions. Instead of compassion (for both parties) and expressing the absolute horror (for both sides) all I am seeing is a witch hunt against the child’s parents and statements from people this would NEVER happen if the child was under their watch.
Maybe we will find out that the parents were on their phone, and not paying attention to their kids. Maybe we will find out that mom told her son he could walk alone, unsupervised, to another section of the exhibit. OR maybe we will find out that this tragic circumstance was truly just an accident and we will all learn just how quickly things can go from happy day at the zoo to watching an absolute terror unfold in front of your eyes and fearing that you are about to lose your child.
Either way-as parents its imperative that we do not think to ourselves, “Oh that would never happen under my watch!” Because you know what…you just don’t know.
Has your child ever bolted out in front of you, just steps away from the street? Have you ever looked at your older child in the grocery store for a split second and your younger child has started to wander away? Both of these circumstances have the potential to create very grave situations though fortunately rarely do. That isn’t always case though. You were just on the positive side of luck. The very definition of accident is something that occurs unexpectedly and unintentionally. Can accidents be prevented? Absolutely. Every single one? No.
There is real danger in assuming you would never be a victim of such a horrific accident. For example, you believe that you would never leave your kid in the car? To avoid Forgotten Baby Syndrome (forgetting your child in a hot car), one of your first lines of defense to NOT assume you would/could ever do such a thing.
Harambe’s story is absolutely heartbreaking; so is the persecution of the parents of the child. The truth is: fortunately while most of us will never be on the side of a tragedy like this, if we find ourselves facing such a catastrophe, we need support and sympathize, not a chorus of, “It is your own fault this happened!” Practice compassion before persecution because you just never know if you will need people to show you some one day.