They will come up to you and greet you. In a blissful, perhaps dangerous state of ignorance their curiosity gets the better of them and they want to find out just who you are. These are the penguins of Antarctica. And why should they behave in any other way? They have no natural predators to speak of, and they don’t often get to see such big folk as us.
Yes the penguins are the innocent ones. There is no fear only friendly curiosity. They are a peaceful and generous lot who live in the foul stench of a remote and cold rookery. Without foe and with sufficient to eat, they are the innocent ones. There is something here that we need to go and find. Ours is the innocence lost. On the rocky beaches, in those cold and isolated places we need to look at ourselves and ask the question; what has become of us?
We have lost our way, and when we ate of the forbidden fruit it was not ignorance we lost it was innocence, and in that loss we surrendered our humanity. Innocence becomes the virtue that the wily and cunning and criminal exploit. A beautiful innocent little girl becomes easy prey for depravity. Trust no one, beware of strangers. Live in fear.
As we come of age so we celebrate a loss of innocence. A world opens up and our awareness expands. There is evil and pain in the real world. Play things are replaced with the tools of work. Fantasy is replaced with reality and then with responsibility. The loss of virginity is one thing – yet at its very core it is the loss of our humanity that I fear the most.
In silent protest I sometimes wear a T-shirt that proclaims a “World Without Strangers”. I wish that it were true. What is interesting is the reaction my protest draws, from the outwardly hostile to warm and welcoming. I believe that a stranger is just a friend you do not know. I make no case for ignorance here, I am well aware of the dangers of this world – but I do want to regain my innocence.
As I stood in a cold and inaccessible patch, so far away from our reality I met a penguin on my path. And he looked me in the eye and asked me who I was. I felt ashamed for all I could reply was “I don’t know any more”. I felt I spoke for us all.