I’ve always felt that at his core, the animal man is a naturally decent being. It’s something that the brain affords us; that respect and empathy for each other. It exists in some other animals and when we recognize it in them they tend to be rather social creatures with developed intelligence. Maybe it was stamped onto our psyche through millennia of competition and cooperation in the same manner that the human body grew skin as a protective coating from the elements.
But when I listen to news about the culmination of the case of Anjelica Castillo, better known as Baby Hope, I’m somewhat torn with that assessment.
Most of us have heard by now about the confession of a family member, a cousin, who admitted sexually assaulting, smothering and then, with the help of a deceased sister, discarding the body unceremoniously alongside a Manhattan parkway in a cooler.
And as much as it’s a good thing that he’s finally confessed, an act that will allow the immediate family closure, I can’t help but think that his motives, even at this late stage of the game, may be self-serving.
You see, man has not only a sense of self but also a sense of a higher power, an afterlife, if you will. We get up to a certain age and our mortality pokes its morbid head around the corner of our lifespan. It reminds us, hollers at us actually, that our time on this plane is limited and we may be taking a trip here very soon.
And once we recognize the inevitability of that journey, we start to ponder our ultimate destination; a reckoning that pushes us to make right that which we got wrong during our short time on this world.
I can’t help but wonder if that’s the need that Conrado Juarez was trying to satisfy here; the need to make it right, as much as he could, with his maker and not the family. I would like to think that it’s purely conscience; that little voice inside of him telling him throughout the years that he was wrong and should submit himself for justice.
Unfortunately, I can’t make that leap of faith.
Will that change my thinking about my fellowman? Not really. Despite the existence of the Ariel Castro’s or the Charles Manson’s and in spite of the fact that the missing child went virtually unreported for all these years, I’m still confident of our inherent goodness.
For the same reason that skin is necessary to allow us to live without burning up, human decency permits us to coexist. Without it, we would have surely killed each other off by now.