When I was younger, I took a women’s literature course and one of the writers the young professor introduced us to was a revolutionary woman named Rigoberta Menchu. Physically, she presented nothing of a threat: plump, ordinary-looking, no scowl on her round face. But mentally and dynamically, she’s a powerhouse for the indigenous population of Guatemala. I remember reading her work and appreciating the guts it took for her to speak truth to power and righteously defend her people. She not only defended people; she defended animals and nature . . . basically, she defends the rights of all living beings.
She said, “There is not one world for man and one for animals; they are part of the same one and lead parallel lives.” That statement is so simple but incredibly powerful. And true. One thing you can count on with Menchu is that she tells the truth.
This morning, I was thinking of that statement when I walked Izzy before the sun rose. We saw several of his dog friends while walking. One’s a female boxer whose submissive and sweet personality reminds me of Menchu herself. Boxers are strong, muscular dogs, yet Peaches defies the stereotype. Instead, she is friendly and wiggly, like you would expect Izzy to be. Both of them are the exact opposite of what you would expect, as is Menchu.
We inhabit a neighborhood where possums live next door to foxes, bluebirds share the sky with buzzards, tiny yappy dogs (like the Chihuahua down the street) walk the same streets as burly pitbulls. Black Methodists sing in a church a block away from White Baptists. Single women who have grown up in North Carolina and spent their lives surrounded by family are friends with others who grew up in New England and have no family nearby. Doctors shake the hands of field workers. Though there are times when our paths do not cross — and other times when they collide — we all are part of the same world, and as Menchu states, we lead parallel lives.
As I pondered that thought, Izzy did his morning routine: sniffing under the old white Cadillac for the tortoiseshell cat that hides there, peering into the sky when the rook of buzzards lifted off the roof of Mr. Mendoza’s house, lapping the pool of rain water that has collected in the dip in the sidewalk. Occasionally, he’ll glance up at me, tongue hanging out the side of his mouth, and I laugh at him. He may not speak human words, but the language he has says one important thing: I’m here for you. I’m part of your world.