if i were a jain

I was thinking about Jainism as I undocked my CitiBike. I wondered if Jains would support abortion? It seemed like they would be my one ally on the progressive left.

I felt like a Jain with the mask on my face. No bugs being swallowed with this make meant to ward off a fiercer bug. I wondered if I could make it as a Jain, if I was nonviolent enough to hack it with the best. The litany of innocent ants that I’ve squashed in my apartment paraded through my head.

Maybe not. I’ve got a long way to go.

As I punched in my unlock code and pondered an alliance of non-violence, a bird flew overhead, across the tree branches stretched over the CitiBike port, and something splattered at my feet.

Oh gross, I thought, is this bird lime? I’d almost been slicked with it the other day when a dove shat on my picnic blanket, mere centimeters from my thigh.

I looked down, and for a second I thought it was a piece of bone with gristle on it that a scavenging bird had dropped. Then, the strange contours of red and grey rendered into a recognizable shape—a baby bird. I wondered if the bird overhead was a predator who’d snatched it from the nest or the unwitting mother who would return to find her child on the ground.

I felt my gorge rise, and I turned my back on the bird. I wished, as I pedaled up Amsterdam, that I had not left the bird on the street, but tried to give it a proper funeral, or at least move it to a kinder surface than the pavement in front of a fleet of bikes. It’s what a Jain would do.

But Jainism seems like a joke in a world that will toss baby birds out of the nest without any help from you. What a futile fumbling at sweetness in a world that rewards none of those efforts.

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