Dark Side Of Humanity
"Master Splinter! Look what I found!"
The rat watched as his second youngest scurried up, all smiles and waving a thick magazine.
The master had taken his ten-year-old sons into one of the darker areas of Central Park for night stealth exercises.
He took the magazine and squinted at it in the moonlight, the only light available, and saw it was full of various scientific articles.
No wonder Donatello was so excited, Splinter thought to himself.
He smiled at the boy and tucked it safely in the pouch he carried over his shoulder.
"An interesting find, my son," he said quietly, "But have you forgotten the purpose of tonight's task?"
Donny clapped a hand over his mouth. "Oops..."
All at once he was tackled silently from both sides and restrained.
"Geez Donny, we could hear you miles away," Raph hissed, letting go of his brother's arm, as Mikey giggled.
"You have to be more careful than that," Leo warned, as Splinter decided they'd done enough for tonight and began leading them out of the park.
"I know..." Donny mumbled, his thoughts focused on that magazine in Splinter's bag.
He couldn't wait to read it.
Back at the lair Leo, Mike and Raph settled down to watch 21 Jumpstreet, a show Donny enjoyed too, but tonight he had eyes only for his find.
After Splinter surrendered it, Donny took it off to his room, nestled on his bed, and lost himself in the world of science.
He read with fascination the advances in cancer treatment, a new NASA space probe that was in the works, a debate on whether there was a missing link in the chain of human evolution, and the rising fight against global warming.
Why can't all humans think like these scientists, and try to do good for the world, instead of killing each fighting over a strip of land, or oil, or what someone else believes in,
Don thought with a yawn.
He decided to read just one more article before crawling under the covers, and carefully turned the page.
Voiceless Victims was the bold heading. Donny skimmed the first couple of paragraphs. Then he began reading properly, and with growing horror, of a handful of scientists that had come forward- risking their careers and even their lives- revealing the dozens and dozens of institutes across the country, and around the globe, that were using animals in unspeakable experiments.
Innocent creatures of all descriptions were being subjected- tortured- in everything from illegal cosmetic product testing and uncontrolled medical research to top-secret biological warfare.
He stared at the few photos that the renegade scientists had managed to get hold of.
The emaciated cats whose eyes had been literally burned away by chemicals, rats and mice with their brain tissue exposed and left to die in agony in fetid cages, chimps restrained and stuck with several drips of evil-looking fluids, and others. Too many others.
Donny let the magazine slide to the ground, his hands shaking, and felt a deep loathing fury rise within him, at the same time tears came to his eyes for the agony of those innocent creatures.
How can humans do this? How can they harm another living creature? What gives them the right?
His blood ran cold.
What would they do to us if we were caught?
The thought made him gasp in terror. He felt sick, and as though he were slowly suffocating.
"Donatello! What is wrong, my son?" Splinter's superior hearing had alerted him and he hurried in to the room, sat on the bed, and wrapped his furry arms around the boy.
Don clung to him and sobbed.
"Sensei...why are humans so cruel...they kill each other for land...kids are dying of hunger...murders...and they turn on defenseless animals too...why..."
Splinter stroked his shell repeatedly, at a loss for how to answer and what had brought this on.
He glanced around and his gaze fell on the glossy magazine open on the floor at the story on the animal abuse.
Splinter sighed and waited for the sobs to slow.
He could hear his other sons; he was glad they were occupied and hadn't noticed anything amiss with their brother.
He regretted not checking that magazine before letting Donatello read it; he knew from experience that there were many man-made wrongs that upset his sensitive son; news stories on starving children in third-world countries, wars and conflicts that destroyed innocent people's homes and lives, racism, the homeless, abandoned animals.
Splinter smiled sadly to himself as he recalled how he'd finally found out where Donatello disappeared to every night; he was never gone for more than ten minutes, he always carried a bag, and always went alone.
Splinter had followed him, simply out of curiosity, as none of his other sons could tell him anything either, and discovered that Donatello was doing his best to feed the local homeless stray cats, with whatever could be spared from their kitchen.
"They'd do the same to us, wouldn't they," the young turtle said, having eventually cried himself down to sniffles. It was a statement, not a question.
Splinter closed his eyes briefly. It was no good sugar-coating with this one, he was too bright.
"My son, human behaviour is at the best of times confusing. There are people in the world, and I am certain of this, who would do us no harm, and who may even befriend us, but there are also those who are afraid of what they don't understand. Fear leads to misunderstanding."
The boy regarded him seriously as Splinter continued.
"I, like you, cannot understand how they can deliberately harm another living creature, especially as the belief is that man and beast were once one, or that they were created by the same higher being.
As hard as it is to accept, my son, and you have seen it yourself, that humans can easily harm others, without any feeling, and if animals are regarded as inferior, then they have no trouble doing harm to them."
Donatello looked up, his face tear-stained.
"What would they do to us?" he whispered.
The rat could not answer directly.
"This is part of the reason I insist on such discipline and precision in your training.
You all must learn to blend with the shadows, always stay hidden, fade away without trace. I will never allow harm to come to any of you, and when the time comes that I can no longer protect you, your skills will allow you all to protect one another and yourselves," the rat said gently.
"I hate humans," Donny said a cold voice that made the rat start.
"Hate is a strong word, young one," Splinter said carefully, "Not all humans are bad or evil. In fact, I believe the good outnumber those that are."
"Why do you say that?" Don asked doubtfully.
The rat collected the magazine, folding back the photo page, and gestured to the article.
"The scientists who revealed this. Certainly they are trying to help these animals rather than harm them?"
Splinter pointed to the last paragraph of the article.
"These numbers and addresses are those of animal welfare and protection organizations, and I imagine they have many members across the world, fighting for the rights of animals, and various law enforcers, who will no doubt do their utmost to uncover and end these goings-on."
He looked at Donatello, who was considering this last.
"My master, Hamato Yoshi. No creature could have wanted a better home or master," he said softly, "And there are many others, my son, remember that."
Don heaved a shuddery sigh and rubbed his eyes. "You're right Sensei."
Splinter realized that Donatello certainly had a good grasp on the dark side of humanity, and the fact that they must have as little contact with them as possible, even when one day they would come to fight the bad and protect the good.
The training and hiding in the shadows may be a kind of game to his brothers, but from tonight on, it would be a matter of life or death, freedom or captivity to Donatello.
Splinter caught him stifling a yawn and suggested it might be bedtime, even though the other three were still watching tv.
Don didn't object and climbed under the covers.
Splinter tucked him in -he couldn't imagine any of the other boys letting themselves be "tucked in" at age ten- and wiped away a stray tear from the green cheek.
He led the boy through a short meditation to calm his mind, and he was soon drifting toward sleep.
Splinter picked up the magazine and turned the light out.
He wandered to the living area, found his remaining sons nearly asleep in front of the flickering television, bade them good night- among sleepy protests- and warned them to try and be quiet as Donatello was already asleep.
When he was alone and the lair was still, he sat in his favourite chair and turned to the upsetting article.
He looked at the disturbing photos, particularly the one of the rodents, with deep sorrow.
Had life turned out differently, I could well be one of these poor lab creatures.