Some of you are going to find this column ridiculous.
Some of you are going to judge me wimpy and without manly fortitude.
I was driving down the street yesterday, about two blocks from my house.
A squirrel darted across my path just ahead of me.
For an instant, I thought he made it.
But then I heard this kind of thump that told me that Rocky had an encounter with my tires.
I looked in my rearview mirror to see what carnage I had caused.
This little creature was spinning in a circle, pivoting around a single point where his limb had been flattened to the ground.
I drove even more slowly, keeping my eyes on the rearview mirror.
Eventually, the spinning stopped and this little rodent somehow was able to get the smashed portion of his body unstuck from the pavement.
Then he clumsily dragged himself to the other side of the street.
I was overcome with a sense of guilt.
This animal obviously was experiencing excruciating pain.
I began to fantasize about this innocent creature returning to his nest.
Family members would react in horror, observing the mangled and bloody body of their loved one.
Imagine the suffering you experience at the dentist's office or in the emergency room when some minor procedure is undertaken.
At least you have the chance to receive an anesthetic or maybe a shot of Novocain.
I briefly said a prayer to the patron saint of animals, St. Francis, and asked him to intercede on behalf of this furry animal and to ask God to grant me a little forgiveness.
Some of you are laughing right now, thinking about my overreaction to events affecting only a dumb animal.
Maybe you've got a 10 point buck mounted on the wall of your rumpus room and discussions regarding animal suffering are regarded by you as silly.
I just know how I felt at the moment.
Yes, I know that it was an accident.
But that didn't and still doesn't make me feel any better.
What do we really know about the suffering of animals?
Are their nerve endings so different from our own that they can't really experience the kind of pain that we do?
I don't believe that.
Animal pain is just as painful as human pain.
Some animals form such deep relationships with one another that they go into deep mourning when one of them is lost or destroyed.
Studies of elephant herds describe the deep depression experienced when the mother loses a child to the attack of a lion or the shotgun blast of a poacher.
Look, I'm not a member of PETA or a radical who will throw a cup of blood on the starlet wearing a fur coat to a Broadway opening.
I just know what I felt.
I felt somehow connected to the agony and the sadness and the tragedy of running over a squirrel.
And it made me think.
I drive more slowly and more carefully in the neighborhoods these days.
And I'm still thinking.