Mensa Bulletin June '09




Here's the full article excepted above... (NOTE: A piece on the same topic appears in the February/March issue of Mil Mania.  This is a completely different article.)


Unforgettable Forgiveness

     A few weeks ago I passed one of those letter boards that appear outside many churches and read the bold directive, “Forgive the ones who’ve hurt you the most.”  Once upon a time, it would have prompted the thought this was advice most who read the sign weren’t likely to see followed anytime soon.  After all, who precisely in the modern-day world – wherein legal vindication is sought in response to every “hurt,” from false accusations of weight gain in a tabloid to being burned by coffee someone didn’t realize might actually be hot – is really going to act in such a “divine” manner?  The likely answer: nobody. 
     Having actually seen the advice put into action only days before, however, the words prompted a very different reaction.  For, a brief article on the internet had led me to a television special about a man who took this concept so far that, while in the midst of a brutal attack which would leave him with the most critical of injuries, he cried out not for his own rescue, but on behalf of his attacker.  
     That extraordinary man is Roy Horn.  Many reading this probably know him better as the animal trainer half of the duo Siegfried and Roy; I knew him only as a name from an evening news story in 2003, wherein it was noted he’d been mauled by one of the exotic cats who served as supporting players in a spectacle-filled Las Vegas show.  Upon reading this internet piece, however, I quickly hungered to learn more.  As a result, I tuned in to the television special to “meet” this man, and to hear the amazing story I’d glimpsed in words on a flat web page brought to life through his own paralysis-impaired speech. 
     What a story it proved to be.  While this article doesn’t allow room to share the details in depth (you can visit for more information) it quickly became clear Roy’s unusual bond with animals started early.  And, throughout his years of success with Siegfried, it flourished and expanded.  Footage of Roy romping in a field with a bevy of white tigers, and swimming amongst them in a pool provide images of an intimacy between man and beast difficult to grasp.  In explanation, Roy noted he’d been present for every birth, and because his was the first face each of these creatures saw, and the first voice they heard, it only stood to reason they believed him one of their own. 
     Even so, it only stands to reason this unity must have been shattered when one of these enormous and powerful beings attacked Roy onstage, leaving him with little chance of survival and the best case scenario of a very limited recovery.  It seemed the doctors who delivered this grim prognosis, however, knew even less of Roy than I did.  Not only did he survive, in the months that followed he began steadily surpassing every expectation.  Despite the greatest odds, he gradually regained the ability to walk and talk – and to express his unshakable belief that the tiger who had caused this devastating harm had, in fact, intended help instead.  Roy asserts that he experienced a small stroke onstage, which the tiger somehow sensed, and in reaction it immediately attempted to drag him away to safety.  Because a human can’t be carried by the neck like a cub, however, the result was catastrophic.  Yet, even in the midst of this occurrence, Roy’s greatest concern wasn’t for his own safety, but that the tiger not be hurt.
     Still, with five years hindsight into the physical challenges with which he continues to struggle, surely Roy’s bond with his massive cats must have eroded – so one would naturally assume.  When asked by the interviewer whether this was the case, however, Roy answered “No,” with such a calm and certain assurance as to leave no doubt regarding the truth of his declaration.  He acknowledged, of course, the limits his physical condition placed upon him in terms of interacting with them.  But, his trust and respect for his beloved animal comrades remained unchanged.
     The television special went on to show the charity event for which Siegfried and Roy had emerged from retirement, and the farewell performance in which it culminated.  And just like the show that had proved their unplanned exit from the public eye half a decade before, the illusion they chose to share once more featured a white tiger.  But it wasn’t just any white tiger.  It was Montecore, the very tiger who had ended their career and come so close to killing Roy.
     It’s been said one definition of insanity is repeating the same behavior while expecting different results.  And, some must have surely viewed Siegfried and Roy’s decision to include this “savage beast” as proof of insanity in its most dangerous form.  Or, it might be viewed as the height of arrogance – a determined choice to ignore, even flout every tenet of good sense.  The way I see it, however, it’s among the most unique love stories ever told. It’s also one of the greatest examples of genuine forgiveness ever set forth – and a reminder of how closely these two concepts are intertwined.  It’s been said, “Greater love hath no man than he lay down his life for his friend.”  But I’m not sure the greatest love isn’t found in standing by a friend who’s very nearly taken his life.  If that’s not living the advice, “Forgive the ones who’ve hurt you the most” at its highest level, I don’t know what is.  But I know it’s a lesson I’ll never forget.  I’ve long gone by the web address “,” to illustrate my admiration for those (as an old Apple Computers commercial once stated) “crazy enough to change the world.”  Yes, I believe Roy Horn is among the craziest people I’ve ever encountered.  And, I can only hope one day I might attain even the slightest fraction of his insanity.















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