18 May 2019
9 years ago a boy came to ask if he could borrow a cat carrier from me.
He had found an abandoned rabbit outside our school. It was weekend & he had just checked out of hostel, carrying some of his personal items.
The journey from school to his home was a long one and he wanted to ensure the rabbit’s safety by putting him in a carrier.
As I was preparing the cat carrier for the rabbit, he explained to his mom on the phone why he was taking the rabbit home.
Over the weekend, news of the rabbit rescue spread among the students. It turned out that the discarded pet had been huddling among vegetation outside the school for a couple of days.
In class I spoke of the boy who had stopped for a rabbit. A student swiftly remarked, “Of course he can help. He’s rich.”
Yes, the Rabbit Rescuer did come from a well-to-do family. And maybe he hadn’t always been nice to his peers. But the reflex response that he was able to help because of his wealthy family got me thinking.
Did coming from a better financial background obligate the boy to rescue the rabbit?
And if so, was his rescue effort any less commendable because it was easy for him?
Those were some of the questions I asked.
Although Rabbit Rescuer was materially well off, choosing to be kind still required a certain amount of inconvenience & sacrifices.
I highlighted to the class that because the foundling was a living being, there were lots of follow up work to do.
First he had to walk back to school with the rabbit without any guarantee of whether a cat carrier was available.
Then when he got home, he had to confine the rabbit in his bathroom for observation before integrating the new comer to the rest of the household.
There were also the vet checks and rabbit food, beddings, cage etc to deal with.
I’ve not met many teenage boys who would go that length for a rabbit, regardless of family background.
After that episode, I became more conscious of whether I have in my thoughts or remarks also undermined the good deeds of those whom I perceived to have more advantages than the rest of us.
When someone quits her job to be a stay-at-home mom, do I say, “Of course she can. Her husband’s rich.”?
When a young person decides to pursue a lesser known path, do I say, “Of course he can. His parents can afford it.”?
When a primary school kid gets full marks in a test, do I say, “Of course she can. She has tuition.”?
And perhaps my compulsion to find reasons when something positive happens stems more from envy & cynicism, than from a genuine desire to learn or compliment.
Rabbit Rescuer taught me that when good happens, just rejoice. Don’t spoil it by asking why.