This is so true and really does apply to everybody. I know I’ve wounded others with my needles at some point during my lifetime, and can only hope and pray that they forgive me. I never intended to hurt anybody, but words do and CAN hurt. I know I’ve been hurt by others before, and it’s not a pleasant feeling. I almost felt like the little girl in this story.
Little Miranda was alone in the garden. I was watching her distractedly, occasionally glancing over the top of my newspaper.
Almost kneeling, she was slowly approaching the fence, trying to make as little noise as possible. I thought she was looking for mushrooms or that she was pretending she was a giant mouse.
But after a few minutes I heard her cry out. It was a lusty cry, followed by a bout of tears. I jumped out of my chair and ran out to the garden, in my bare feet.
Miranda was holding her index finger. It was bleeding, but it didn’t look too bad. I ran some water over it, asking what she could have touched that made her finger bleed, in a garden that I had planted with grass and other harmless plants.
“I wanted to touch the animal,” she replied, “but it didn’t let me come close, so I stretched out my arm and it did this. Then it ran away. It’s too bad. I didn’t want to hurt it.”
“What animal?” I asked.
“The white and black ball, down there,” she said, pointing to the end
of the garden.
I picked up a broomstick I found in the kitchen and went back outside. In the garden, half buried in an old gopher hole, I found the animal. It was a porcupine. I remembered what I had learned in my natural science class.
The porcupine is a solitary animal. When confronted, it either retreats or projects its needles. Once the needles have penetrated the flesh, the wounds become infected and, in some cases, can cause death.
Miranda had presented no danger to the porcupine, but it didn’t know what else to do except wound her, or get wounded itself. Nature, in creating its instinct, gave the porcupine no choice: instead of communicating, it had to launch its needles. That is the only
strategy it knows, and no one can change it, not even a little girl who wants to make a friend.
Is the porcupine the only animal to use this type of defense?
No, people apply it every day of their lives. But our needles are more vicious, and better hidden. Words, blows, looks, anger, pride… these are the arms we use to attack those who
seem to be adversaries.
But even a porcupine has to get close to other porcupines at some time. If not the species would disappear.
“It matters little if we have the most beautiful feelings, if we are not able to communicate them.” ~ Stephan Zweig