August 15th, 2020
A few times in my life, I have discovered something at the exact right moment I need it. Maybe you’ve had similar gifts. A book, or a film, or a poet, or a fan club; art that transcends base entertainment and emotion to help you along a particular path or over an incredible obstacle.
I’ve been chattering about it quite a bit over the past few weeks, but Watership Down has been that for me this summer.
To be honest, Hazel the rabbit is the only reason I’m still on social media.
I’ll explain why.
I won’t get into the depth and multitude of ideas and themes present in the novel (that’s what a book club is for!). But the myth behind the rabbit is simple: Frith (their God, the sun) made all animals, and made them equal. When rabbits multiplied and took over the Earth, Frith then gave each animal special gifts; this made a Thousand enemies of the rabbit, with wings and teeth and claws. Frith finally gave the rabbit long, powerful legs, in order to run.
Your enemies will kill you, Frith says, if they catch you. So don’t let them catch you. And thus, a rabbit must always run, or die.
And that’s what the rabbits, led by a Hazel, do. They confront many enemies; they meet massive obstacles with near-impossible odds; they go through nearly every conceivable trauma; and then they keep running.
Which, in turn, inspires me to run.
Hate is loud. Violence is loud. Bigotry is loud. Ignorance is loud. Oppression is loud.
So we keep running.
If you believe in compassion, and empathy, and equality, and logic; if you practice your faith, instead of using it as a shield or a sword; you’re a part of my warren.
And just like Hazel speaks for parts of his warren, I speak for mine.
Where there is hate, violence, bigotry, ignorance or oppression: we speak.
And there is so much right now. And some days I want to quit running.
But to quit running is to die, and I don’t feel like we’re done yet. The book lovingly writes of our world; the sunrises and sunsets, the trees and winds. The sights, smells, sounds, thoughts and feelings of being alive.
Hazel-rah, a plain and friendly brown bunny, can fight for all these things. With him in my heart, I think we all can, too.