Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Bhutto and the Tiger

Another post that I've been meaning to write for a while.

Two deaths that really touched me: Benazir Bhutto and Tatiana the Tiger. Juxtaposing the two seems to trivialize the human death, but the connection for me is on a much more visceral level.

When my radio woke me up on December 27 with Steve Inskeep of NPR stating, as breaking news, "Benazir Bhutto has been killed," I gasped out loud and was immediately awake. It didn't surprise me, but it shocked me.

I have been a Benazir Bhutto fan for a long time. Not from any deep knowledge, because in fact that would probably diminish my respect for her, but just because she was a beautiful, strong woman who was elected president of a country. I was awed by Margaret Thatcher for her election as well, not knowing the politics, just struck by the fact of that a woman was chosen to lead a country. In the case of Bhutto, once again I wish I could say that I was impressed that she was elected president of a Muslim country, but even that slid by me. I didn't notice that Bhutto had several presidencies as well as major corruption scandals. I just saw a stunning, articulate, courageous woman.

With the tiger attack at the San Francisco Zoo, the last thing the news reported was tiger itself and her fate. As I heard the story on the radio on December 26, it naturally focused on the killed and injured humans. The early reports did not name or describe the cat. I didn't even think that the cat had specificity: it was just a big, wild cat. I had to go online to find out what happened to the tiger, that she (was a she) and that she wasn't recaptured, she was shot.

While I understand the circumstances behind the decision to shoot her, it is sad to kill a big cat just because she was acting as naturally as she was. She wasn't acting viciously: that's a human term for the amoral violent act of a big cat using her claws. It would be like killing a housecat for jumping on a bug. It's what cats do.

It think it disturbed me more because she was an amazing product of nature: Siberian cats are the largest of the big cats, and they are critically endangered, with only about 500 worldwide now. She's a loss to the world for that reason, but also for the emotional reason: like Bhutto, she had a combination of power and beauty that went beyond facts and data.

I am still troubed about these deaths in a way that puzzles me a bit. Why do they linger? I didn't know much about Benazir Bhutto, and I didn't even know that specific tiger existed. Perhaps it's about two beautiful, unusual creatures exerting power. And that put them up against forces against which they couldn't survive.


levinzky said...

I wasn't going to write my latest post - but yours, about life and death kind of spurred me on.

I hope you don't think I'm a blog "lurker" or anything, I just told myself to start reading more, and your blog, among a few others, seemed well written.


Lisa F. said...

Levinzky, I don't think of you as a blog lurker -- I think of you as a reader! Thanks for reading. Your blog is good, too. Quite a story about the Executioner. What a profound impact that time ultimately had on your life.

MaybeMBA said...

I agree. Both deaths saddened me a great deal.