A retired New York Times editor friend has a picture of cute lion cubs. She tells a sad, horrifying, story.
Shortly after she photographed a male lion in Africa, he beat a rival for control of the harem, then bit the heads off these babies.
This act of barbaric cruelty was similar to many mentioned in science books in my library, including the late Carl Sagan's "Broca's Brain," explaining it is often essential to transferring strong genes in animal evolution. Tragically, he points out, we share many animal genes; mercifully, other genes make us distinctly, and I believe divinely, human, thwarting primal cruelty. But not always.
I know most readers would aid a child in danger. We are empathetically connected to any child tragically abused by her own mother or male in her life. Yet our failure to recognize the expression of what Sagan called our "alligator brain" leaves children vulnerable to unspeakable violence.
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The blood of innocent 11-year-old Janiya Thomas is on all our hands. I grieve for her. We did not torture or kill her, nor put her small body in a freezer. But we all let it happen by failing to put more effort into protecting our vulnerable children.
It is a societal moral failing beginning with loss of respect for human life. It continues by not recognizing threats. It happens when adults do not intervene. We must do more to stop this cruelty.
Look to our humanity. The Manatee County School Board should be ashamed for even considering re-appointing any employee who was anything less than aggressively protective of children. Child Protective Services needs a house cleaning and we all need some soul searching. It is the least we can do for Janiya and all children.
David R. Kraner