The first hominids who strained and struggled until they managed to rise up on two trembling limbs, were vilified, we can be sure, by their fellows. Some, if not most, were probably killed within minutes of their evolutionary statement.
The first of their descendants to put down his rock, and picking up his store of nuts and berries, slowly and hesitantly walk over and place them next to those of his astonished neighbor, will have certainly been the object of ostracism. Though it is reasonable to assume that both families survived the winter in better shape than usual, thanks to their revolutionary cooperative efforts, when spring came, both families, if they were not killed, most certainly were driven from what passed for a community in those days.
The Samaritan of the Christian scriptures might have been immortalized on paper, but in the immediate aftermath of his generosity, it is not likely that the neighborhood children were permitted to play with his, and his wife, approaching the well, heard conversation stop, and fumbled with the windlass, cheeks aflame, amid stony stares and silence.
And on down to Miep Gies, who takes her place in a long line of mutants, most of them unnamed, unsung, unknown, whose genetic makeup is just a little bit different. How else can we explain Miep, and all her fellow oddballs, for while it is her name we remember, she was not entirely alone. Miep grew up in the same society, heard the same messages, as her countrymen, who fell into line and accepted the reality that was imposed upon them.
Miep refused to be pragmatic.
My theory, guaranteed to be as provable as it is unscientific, is that there are a few human specimens, a very few, who on hearing “The Swiss are a dangerous threat, they must be killed detained contained” – in that moment, some mysterious neural synthesis takes place somewhere in their brains – in that moment, they become Swiss.
“Oh, HELL no!” cries some electrochemical somewhere, and before you can even get out the shortest admonishments, like “nuanced,” for example, that rejectionist mutant has turned its basement into what today’s media militant and triumphant would call a “rat’s nest” crammed wall to wall with chocolate-making, cheese perforating, yodeling enemies du jour of the Emperor’s gold.
We are, as a species, as Desmond Tutu so kindly put it recently, “a work in progress,” – What can one say, after all, about creatures for whom the simple phrase “never again” translates to this? I am grateful for Miep – and all her fellow mutants whose names we will never know.
Nor do we know the names of her mutant descendants. We know that they are very busy, that their workload is increasing daily, and we can pray that their number will grow.