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Trinkets vs. Treasures

Katherine R. Au

Life, I have found, has an interesting way of teaching us lessons. I have discovered that every action has a purpose, although that purpose may not make itself clear when the action is taken. I also believe that when actions of destruction occur, the desecrater, although the law may not punish him or her, may accordingly face an even larger punishment by a power greater than humanity.

Why the vengeance topic? Today, on October 7, 2002, I received an email from Audrey and Mike Hillman regarding their horse Billy. Evidently a person (or more than one person) took a gate of theirs off its hinges and made an opening for the horses to leave the safety of their field to enter the danger zone of the road. One of their horses, Billy, entered the danger zone and was hit by a truck and killed.

I knew Billy. I used to try to ride Billy. I say tried because he was even more stubborn than I was, and we would both spend our time together sweating away our stubbornness and ultimately accomplishing nothing. But, through all his stubbornness Billy remained a steadfast gentleman who helped keep calmness in the barn. He was the companion for the horse left behind, or the one who nickered when one entered the dark, cold barn to check on the horses, and he never once threw a temper tantrum to be head honcho. If you would scratch the star on his forehead he would lower his head until his muzzle almost touched the floor, and you could feel how pleased he was to have his favorite place scratched. He simply was a class act.

His killers are not.

My first reaction to Audrey's email was disbelief. My second was anger. Not ten minutes before Audrey's email I heard on CNN of the Maryland/Washington D.C. serial sniper who had shot a thirteen-year-old boy leaving his aunt's car to go into his school. I felt disbelief that a person could shoot an innocent child going to school. I felt disbelief that a person (or persons) could put horses in harm's way for no apparent reason. Now, I'm angry.

I'm angry that there are people who value life so little that they will desecrate and destroy it for no apparent reason. I'm angry that some feel that the pain or death of a living creature is sport. I'm angry that our society has allowed such people to grow and flourish to become murderers among us. I'm angry that there is simply a random disregard for life, whether it is for a person or a horse, no matter how far the range of value between a horse and a little boy. I'm angry that I shake my head and wonder what this world is coming to, and continue on about my day adding another layer of numbness to the atrocities that surround my life. Most of all, I'm angry that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is such a cheap trinket.

To those who opened the gate and allowed Billy to die a death he did not deserve, I say shame on you. You, who most likely played some game, or answered some dare, or laughed as you drove off, or patted your back at your prank accomplishment, you are the salesperson of trinkets. I'm sorry for you that life can hold no real value. I'm sorry you have proven that you cannot know the richness of life. For life is truly a treasure. It is priceless for us all, whether it's the life of a human or an animal.

The purpose of life's atrocities may elude us, our right to see justice done may hide from us, but I believe that each action done in harm does carry a weight of responsibility. Our justice system may lack the tools to serve justice, it may be lied to and believe the lies, or it may not be given the chance to serve its purpose; but I believe with my whole heart that those who hold life as a trinket are punished far worse than those who know life to be a treasure. Faith can be a fickle belief in our time, but it is faith that allows me to still sleep at night, for I know those who are trying to sell trinkets have no true concept regarding the priceless treasure of life. So, I will still wake up each morning grateful I hold a treasure, and maybe, just maybe, one morning some trinket salesperson will wake up broke and realize truckloads of trinkets do not one treasure make.