Personal Narrative 3: Cruelty is a Connection

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic

A personal narrative about why cruelty is a connection.

Cruelty is a Connection

 

Cruelty is everywhere, in many different shapes and sizes. It can be that one guy who ran over a puddle in front of you and drenched your clothes while you were on your way to a meeting. It can also be the well-intentioned friend who made a joke at your expense, or when one of your relatives died. No matter what, cruelty connects everyone and everything. If you see someone being hit or yelled at, you don’t like it. No one does, unless they feel schadenfreude (“Why Are Humans so Cruel?” article, Michael Shammas). Even if you see a complete stranger that you don’t know having cruelty inflicted upon them, you’ll feel bad. That’s human. In fact, this even stretches to animals. I’ve seen people be cruel to animals in a circus, and it isn’t nice.

It was a summer evening, with the sun just about to set. We were at a circus. It was the first one I’d been to, so I was pretty excited. We were about to go inside when something caught my attention. I ran around the back to see what it was. Behind a fence, there was a man and a lion. The lion had chains around its neck and paws. The man was a safe distance away, and he had a whip. Probably for show, I thought. Then he lashed it on the lion’s back and it roared in pain. He whipped it a few more times and it stopped. I ran to my parents and joined back into the line.

I was horrified by what I’d seen. Although I’d never seen the lion before, I still felt bad for it. I felt its pain. We then walked inside the giant curtain. This wasn’t a tiny little tent like the ones I’d seen on tv. This circus was a giant building, with bleachers super high. We got a seat around the middle of the entire thing, so we had a pretty good view.

Then the show started. It was awesome, for the first part. There were tightrope artists and trapezes. There was a strongman that lifted a giant tire. There was even a contortionist who bent herself into a heart. I was liking this show. My favorite act was the man who launched himself out of a cannon, flew through a flaming ring, landed on a trampoline, and jumped onto the ground with a backflip. I wanted to do that!

Then came the animal portion. It started with a bull and a tamer. The bull looked mad, and I saw its stomach. You could see its ribs and it looked like they were barely feeding it. The bull rushed the tamer and the tamer dodged it while the bull ran behind him. This happened a few more times, and then the next act came on.

I was hoping for this act to be better than the last, but it was terrible. There were malnourished animals everywhere, and I could swear some of them had whip marks on them. The worst part was that all of the animals - no matter what type - looked so sad. So many people in the crowd were enjoying the show, but yet so many looked as shocked as I was. I even saw a few people leave.

Then came the finale. They brought the lion out that I’d seen earlier. I could tell it looked frightened. The lion was supposed to jump through a ring and then roar. Instead, it just stood there for a few seconds and then collapsed. The man who I’d seen earlier whipped it to try and make it move. That was the last straw. Everyone was still for a second, and then they rushed out of the circus. Some people stayed, but they were greatly outweighed by the crowd of people leaving. I like to think that those people were just frozen with shock.

I left with my parents. The lion was dragged out by some people who worked there. The cruelty to the lion - and all of the other animals - connected everyone there and even people that weren’t present. In the following weeks, I’d seen a lot of strikes and protests against circuses and animal cruelty. Cruelty is a connection that’s everywhere - even in books and media. A good example of this is from the book “You Don’t Know Me”, by David Klass.

On page 23, paragraph 8, Mr. Steenwilly says, “ ‘John, I don’t believe it’s a healthy thing for a young person to spend so much time inside his own head. It’s a trap. One I know all too well. Now, one way out of that trap is to find a magic portal to the outside.’ “ Mr. Steenwilly can tell John’s experiencing cruelty and is sad. He’s using the cruelty he experienced from his own childhood to relate with John and connect to him, and maybe even to help him. Whenever someone’s experiencing cruelty, it’s human nature to try and help them out - unless you feel schadenfreude: pleasure achieved from someone else’s misfortune. (“Why Are Humans so Cruel?” article, Michael Shammas)

A great example of this is from the same book, on page 38, paragraph 6. John thinks, “Poor Billy Beezer. Even though he is turned away from me, I can tell that he is suddenly very scared. His knees are knocking against the elevator doors. If he had been one step faster, he would have made it through those doors, and gotten away with it.” John clearly doesn’t care that much about Billy here. He is feeling schadenfreude from when Billy was going to ask Gloria out on page 34, paragraph 8. Billy knew that John had a giant crush on Gloria, but was still going to ask her out. Naturally, John felt good when Billy got arrested and lost the chance to the next day. You can tell he still feels a little bad when he’s thinking, but not nearly as bad as he would’ve felt if they were still in good standings.

Although cruelty is horrible, it can be used to pull all of us together. Whenever something cruel happens to someone or something, people everywhere unite and try and stop it from happening. You can read up all kinds of articles about this online. Speaking of reading, why do we read? As I’ve said in my previous essay, we read to learn and reflect, but also to feel emotion. Adding onto this, we also read to connect with the world. Reading about cruelty can help us connect with other people who feel the same way and change something in the world.


Submitted: July 21, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Atiksh Paul. All rights reserved.

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