Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Epiphany from a Deer

A few weeks ago, I came upon a deer as I was walking up to my office in Marist Hall at the Catholic University of America. As residents of DC and CUA know, deer on campus are relatively rare, though not unheard of (there are plenty of green spaces in Washington). This small doe was simply grazing in front of Marist, minding her own business and--in good Aristotelian-Thomistic fashion--reveling in her deerness ("cervitas"?).

Perhaps it was my surprise at seeing an unexpected ungulate, but on realizing that there was a deer between me and my office, two thoughts came immediately to mind:

1. Should I contact campus security?

2. I wish I had a camera.

I find my response to be a sadly telling portrait of the urban American imagination. In the context of the workaday world (as opposed to a park or the forest), a deer is something that requires policing; it might begin attacking C.U.A. undergraduates if not for the valiant shuffling of campus police. Supposing, though, that this doe were harmless, it would be my duty to document it, to present it to friends as a curiosity, an odd intrusion of large fauna into the world of work.

(A deer caught by a person with a camera)

Without going full-out Jean-Jacques Rousseau here, I do think that my reaction was a rather sad one (and sadder too if it is typical of urban Americans). Humans should not be so very divorced from the natural world that a stray doe is cause for concern or amazement.

After musing at me for a moment, the deer sprang away to another grazing spot.
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