The idea was to promote and advance political reconciliation through broad participation by all sectors of orangutan society.
I was skeptical from the start.
As usual, T-Bone grunted.
He’ll never change, Roxy groaned.
No surprise! Even Dots and Dandelion, the rookies in our habitat, expressed their opinions.
Some things never change. But I wait to be surprised, for better or worse. I exist for the surprise. I live in anticipation of it. However skeptical I seem to the rest of them, and despite myself, I am hopeful. Someday the keepers will come up with an idea that sticks. They’ll stop using words like promote. (They can’t promote for us. When will they figure that out? We promote from within!) Someday the keepers will untangle the process of evolution from the notion of advancement. (Why do they think they can force us to advance? And to where, for what and why?)
Small changes do occur over time. With this particular idea, once implemented, the changes were uncomfortable for us. For example, all of us (orangutans and keepers) were well aware that Rosie and Roxy did not enjoy each others company. The idea forced the two of them to not only share habitat viewing hours (shifts of four or five orangutans placed in main area for zoo visitors to watch through glass windows) but also to share sleeping dens at night (three orangutans per den). At first that was kind of humorous. We chuckled and snickered and teased T-Bone to no end about his sleepless nights, having to share the den with this unfortunate pair. But as time passed, the situation wore on and the jokes grew tired. T-Bone grew extremely tired. Rosie and Roxie were supposed to be participating. They were getting nowhere with that. Any day now, the idea would soon be scrapped as a failure, we were sure of it. But it didn’t and everyone grew weary. Someday the keepers will realize that reconciliation is not a procedure and that (at least for us) it cannot be planned. When T-Bone’s tiredness turned into illness, our weariness turned into madness.
I was still skeptical, maybe due to my own weariness.
He’s going to die! Let him out of that den! Kokoman raged.
Let us all out! Hairy Larry rallied.
Stop fighting you two! Dots and Dandelion begged Rosie and Roxy.
Some changes are made too late. T-Bone died. The madness receded to sadness tinged with a sense of failure. The keepers took back the implementation of their latest idea of course. We didn’t blame them because blame is beyond our capacity of reasoning. Someday the keepers will realize we are incapable of those sorts of politics. So we continued to exist for who we are. We kept plodding along without advancing, passing each other by without participating, peering back at everyone through the glass windows. We’re mostly happy.
I for one, stare back into some of those faces thinking, the(ir) universe is way more cold-blooded that I could ever be.