The vulnerability of the human being is a little different to the vulnerability of the wild creature. We think we’re in control. We seek control. We regulate our lives with agreed-upon units of time; with to-do lists and job descriptions and the imposed tyranny of key performance indicators. We regulate human experience with pathologies and diagnoses and we seek to legislate, to protect ourselves, against anything that might go wrong. That tree might fall; cut it down. You might burn yourself; we’ll warn you that the contents of your take-away coffee may be hot. You might forget to put on your seat-belt; we’ll cause your car to sound a warning tone until you comply with what should really only be good sense anyway.
And yet the vulnerability of the human being is staggering. Small wounds become inflamed and infected; heat melts flesh and sears down to the bone; cars roll and flesh is mangled and bloodied beyond recognition. Fragile flesh that opens and tears, and brittle bones that snap, and delicate inner organs inadequately protected by a bodily housing that may as well be made of glass. And we think we’re in control.
How silly to think that we can protect ourselves from all that goes wrong – to say nothing of the viruses, the bacteria, the cancers. Those things too small, too insidious, to fight. To legislate against. To protect ourselves from. Illness and injury still strike and we still rage against it and death still claims us in its gentle arms.
And that is the final vulnerability: one day, inevitably, our souls will be claimed and cradled by that life-bringing death which marked us right from our birth, and which welcomes us home.