I often find myself confused and disappointed at how we humans seem to rank the priority of life based on our perception of what deserves to be saved and what does not. This 'importance ranking system' of ours is often influenced by our upbringing and personal preferences. However, society as a whole tends to have a 'lose guideline' when it comes to the importance of different animal's lives.
I was on my way to work a couple of days ago, when I noticed something dark in the middle of the pavement. I noted people walking around it. Kids going past on their mini scooters - nearly running it over. No one tried to move whatever it was from the middle of the pavement. In fact, no one really paid it any attention at all. From a distance, I thought it was a small plastic bag - my bad eyesight has failed me more times than I can count - but based on people's reactions to the unidentified item, my brain quickly assumed it was something inconsequential. I soon realised how very wrong my brain was.
The inconsequential item that my brain had assumed was a small black plastic bag, was in fact a pigeon. An injured and scared little pigeon. At that moment, I felt shame. Deep burning shame for my own species. Shame that people would walk by without the slightest inclination to help it. Shame that they would teach their kids to walk by an injured animal without even trying to help it. Yet, I know why they didn't pay it any attention or stop to help it. They didn't because it was just a pigeon.
I crouched by it, trying to protect it from the madness that is central London during the rush hour. As pigeons can carry disease, I used a couple of tissues I had in my bag to gently move it to a quieter location. Once that was done, I called the RSPCA to report the injured little bird. The attendant logged my report but told me that unfortunately, they do not have the manpower to attend to all reports and that by the time they got there, the bird could have either died or flown away. I looked at the pigeon, trying to assess its chances of survival. It saddened me to admit that they were very small. I gave the RSPCA the address and descriptive details of where they could find the bird. At this point, its eyes were closed and I could no longer tell whether the pigeon was alive or not.
I left the pigeon with a heavy heart. This time, ashamed of myself for leaving it there. I could have taken it to a private vet. But I didn't. I got to work feeling no better than the people that walked past it without a second glance. I shared what happened with a few work colleagues and their reaction to it - although expected - only served to fuel my anger and shame. In their eyes, my grief was silly, after all, it was just a pigeon - a 'flying rat'.
That day, I got home and decided to change things. I may not be able to change how other people think or act. What I can do, however, is change how I think and act. As cheesy as this may sound, the memory of the little pigeon will always be with me. It serves as a reminder that next time I see an injured animal, I will do my best to help it. Because to me, there is no such a thing as 'just a pigeon'.