My dad writes a weekly column for his local newspaper under the pseudonym The Village Vet. The below is a column he wrote after Luke was born, an alternative birth notice if you will.
“The difference between animals and us,” he said, “is that we can choose between being happy or sad. They can’t. Their emotions are largely pragmatic, based often on instinct.”
We can look at an issue, for example, a beautiful sunset, and say, “Whoopee, what a beautiful sunset,” or we can say, “it’s probably just dust and pollution.”
“Our frame of mind is OUR choice.”
“So, it’s usually a lot more rewarding being in the company of people who have smiley faces, are positive and happy, than listening to cynical whingers. The former are good for one’s mind-set, the latter are energy thieves.”
He was a lot more clever than me so I nodded my head sagely.
“And another thing,” he continued. He was on a roll now.
“We dictate the way animals look and behave. We select them according to our whims and fancies. I can promise you, Noah did not have black and white cows on the Ark that produce over 50 litres of milk a day. Now these are a dime a dozen. Also, there weren’t any bull-dogs then, nor highly bred Siamese cats. No woolly merinos either. We have taken the original template and re-designed them. We have even changed the hallowed sanctity of our wilderness. We are selecting for golden wildebeest, white lions and black impala, colour variants that would not last for too long if ma nature was in control. And soon, buffalo with 50 inch horns will be the norm.”
“We don’t do these things to our own species, thank goodness. Or at least we shouldn’t. We embrace our individuality, our uniqueness. Or at least we should. Look at the Sharks. There are little guys on that rugby field. Also big guys. There are fair-skinned boys standing next to darker ones, clever dicks tackling boytjies who can’t spell their own name, fast runners overtaking slow-pokes. Imagine a team of 2 metre giants. They would get flattened in broken play by those with more nimble feet. And a team with only number nine on their jerseys would never have the strength to get the ball. There is room for all of us on this most beautiful planet. In actual fact it’s the reason that we are the dominant species and the future of the human race depends on our variety, our difference. Without it there would be no competition, no creativity, no contrasting thought processes and no progress. “
He stopped long enough to take another sip on his bottle of wisdom. I took my chance.
“I became a grand-dad this week,” I interjected. “The first one.“
“Congrats,” he volunteered warmly.
“Thanks. Luke Michael is his name. He brings another dimension to our family. A much loved gift, a happy, healthy, pink-cheeked bundle of unadulterated joy.
“He is special,” I pronounce with what, I guess, is the universal refrain of proud grandparents.
“He has an extra strand of DNA on his 21st chromosome. He has Down syndrome.”
“This is exactly what I have been talking about this last half hour,” he said, after some reflection.
Typical. He always has to have the last word.