I Want Your Ugly

August 31, 2010
By Anonymous

A pigeon once nested in the front courtyard of my house. It moved grotesquely and could not fly, its physicality a result of birth defects. Neither my family nor I felt a necessity to relocate the unfortunate creature, though a sadness crept through me every time I was reminded of its existence.

One day, I noticed a second, heftier pigeon in the courtyard, pecking at our resident bird’s mangled body every time it drew near. My poor pigeon tried desperately to befriend his visitor, but was met only with aggression.

I understand that in natural world untouched by human will the defected are typically abandoned or ignored, but the sight of this incident broke my heart. I did not try to scare away the hostile bird for fear of simultaneously spooking my pigeon. Instead, I instinctively located my camera and snapped shots of this interaction for several minutes. If I could not help my friend, I could at least be a witness to his struggle.
My thoughts drifted to Lenny in Of Mice and Men, Leper Lepellier in A Separate Peace, and Ben in Ben X: lost souls that long so dearly for companionship and acceptance, but who are rejected for their inadequacies by the standards of society, leaving behind haunting, unsavory auras. I thought of my volunteer work at ARCH, the Arizona Recreation Center for the Handicapped, and my constant pursuit to show love and to listen to those whose minds and bodies prevent them from functioning normally. My stewing mind remembered a quote it once read and processed by Elie Wiesel that said “the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”
As a journalist, I aspire to be a witness to those whose problems—be them physical, mental, environmental, or political—are avoided, or simply ignored, because they are too uncomfortable or disgusting to confront. In the eloquent words of the great Lady Gaga, “I want your ugly (…) I want your everything”; I want my life and its work to demonstrate that no living component of this beautiful world is undeserving of love and respect.
My pigeon has since disappeared, his fate unknown, but not the stirring compassion he evoked in me. Taking photographs and writing fill me with the joy of expression, but remembering my pigeon and all that he symbolizes awakens in me more than satisfaction with myself, but purpose in using my talents to help others.

The author's comments:
I feel very passionately about what I discuss in this piece--I just hope it shows enough of who I am as a person!

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