Ask not for whom the Community Room door opens; it opens for thee.
Human beings, at our highest and best, have a keen sense of social justice. We know that “separate but equal” isn’t equal at all. We shall overcome every form of oppression. We work and pray and struggle so that others can have access to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And pie.
But there is no Social Justice Club among the cats at Tabby’s Place.*
Consider the case of the Community Room. Like the Lobby, the Community Room is generally home to cats who we want to:
- Regale with junk food and kisses due to dire diagnoses or heartbreaking history;
- Keep close tabs on due to age/frailty/medical issues; and/or
- Promote due to long tenure at Tabby’s Place
(Yes, there are also kittens and miscellaneous nervous wrecks in there, but that’s another story.)
Our primary goal, then, for most of these “community cats,” is delivering an uninterrupted stream of perfect happiness. These are the cats who’ve known hard livin’ and raw deals. If they were a musical supergroup, their genre would be blues, and their album cover would feature them sitting in a boxcar, staring off into the distance with wisps of wheat between their teeth.
Accordingly, we aim to please them. First rule of pleasing community cats: let them go wherever they want to go.
Ergo the open-door policy. If a Lobby cat wants into the Community Room, you’d dang well better leap up from your desk or your phone call or your meeting with a $200,000,000,000.00 donor to let her in.**
The cats are no fools, so they quickly grok the open-door policy. If the food offerings or angle of the sun or human selections in the Community Room aren’t to their liking, they will sprint right out to the Lobby, tapping or banging or body-slamming the door on the way.
It’s a beautiful thing.
But it’s utterly denied to certain citizens of the realm.
Right now, if you visit Tabby’s Place, you’ll see a glaring sign on both sides of the Community Room door: DO NOT LET JACKIE OUT.
But Jackie…shall not pass.
Adding insult to injury, Jackie was a Lobby cat until we shuttled her into the Community Room and forced her to stay there. Hour after hour, she watches other cats enjoy a freedom she’ll never know.
It’s an injustice.
It’s an abomination.
And it’s entirely of no concern to Jackie.
Although our signs might suggest otherwise, at no time does Jackie actually make any move to escape the Community Room. She’s not organizing the kittens to lie across the doorway in protest. She doesn’t lust for the Lobby food. (OK, she does, but she also lusts for the food in Wichita and Abu Dhabi and your refrigerator.)
Jackie is content.
Hildegarde is denied the open-door policy for the same reason as Jackie: she’s only permitted prescription food. Hilde shares Jackie’s indifference to injustice. The Community Room is world enough for her.
Now, there are exceptions to this apathy. Boots and Olive will rage and rampage their way into the Community Room if given the chance. They subvert the dominant paradigm. They’re not taking this crap lying down. But we’re not giving in to their radical demands, namely since they will both have histories of unleashing their wrath on the Community Room. In a sense, there’s at least some justice to their restriction. You do the crime (attempting to annihilate all the Community Room cats), you do the time (in the sunbeams and soft laps and ceaseless wet-food streams of the Lobby — poor, pitiful you).
But Jackie and Hilde and our other diet-restricted kids? They’re innocent. (OK, OK, there is no universe in which the word “innocent” in any way applies to Jackie Rosenberg.)
And they’re OK…with our injustice.
At least, they act like they are.
Which means they’re almost certainly planning something.
Heaven help the Community Room.
*There is, of course, a Debate Club. Members: every single cat at Tabby’s Place.
**No, we do not yet have any $200,000,000,000.00 donors. But if you are interested in donating $200,000,000,000.00, please contact me, k? Just know that I’ll interrupt our meeting to let Tinkerbell into the Community Room and then out again.