Over 31 years ago, the Animals who were resident in The Park took to the water, to the streets, and to the skies to celebrate the unlikeliest of events: the return of a piece of land to those who had inhabited it from its earliest days.
Though that victory was hard-won, we remain proud that it was not hard-fought. It was Jor, The Park’s first leader and the founder of modern zoocracy, who declared that self-government should be achieved without violence.
“It is by the strength of our numbers and not of our teeth and claws that we will win back what is rightfully ours,” he proclaimed.
And so he led thousands of Animals out of the darkness of danger and subjugation into the light of peace and autonomy. Incorporating his long-held beliefs and newly-acquired understanding, he established a code of laws that he hoped would enable all manner of species to prosper, to find happiness, and most importantly, to live together peacefully in The Park.
But, even more than that, Jor established The Park as a sanctuary. The Park, he declared, would be a place where all Animals would be welcome, no matter who they were or whence they came, whether they were threatened or abused or simply seeking a new home. It would be a place where all Animals would be entitled to equal treatment and opportunity. And a host of opportunities there would be, for all who arrived here and for their descendants. This lofty goal was enshrined in law and it came to be known as “The Promise of The Park.”
Time has removed some of the shimmer from that promise, as time is wont to do. There have been breaches; infractions have been brought to light, the economy has become stagnant. And questions have been raised about our ability to live up to Jor’s ideals.
Questions are good. Questions lead not only to answers, but to insights. And they enable us to see ourselves as others see us. We should never be afraid of questions. But do we need to question The Promise of The Park, itself?
We don’t think so.
While law, The Promise of The Park is still an ideal, a goal, an aspiration. It is a work in progress, something that requires both regular tuning to work properly and to respond to environmental changes and daily vigilance to ensure its safety in a hostile and uncertain world.
When The Promise is threatened, whether from outside or from within, our belief in ourselves and in our abilities is threatened. But our belief in The Promise never should be. Nor should we succumb to these threats; instead, we should renew our commitment to the ideals that are the foundation of The Park’s laws.
The Promise of The Park is intangible, but real. And we believe.