--The Book of Daniel; 7:4
A vision of a creature from Greek mythology in Jewish legend seems as odd as the griffin itself. The significance of it is minor in comparison to the meaning of the image. The griffins wings are “pulled off” plucked from its body as a child detaches the wings from an insect, but then the creature is given a “human heart” like some clay golem. Does this mean all other religious symbolism is destroyed and replaced with the compassion of Daniel’s God?
It seems to imply that carnality and the lowly place of the beast can be transcended with humanity. IF only the poor griffin had the heart of man . . . Frank L. Baum was on to something with the Wizard of Oz. In order to fulfill his rightful place of dominance the cowardly lion sought courage – the heart of a man. So too the tin man who lacked compassion and empathy in his mechanized state. Both quested for the singular goal of humanity.
The griffin resonates with my journey over the last eighteen years. While in the free world my actions were selfish, delinquent, and destructive. My sustenance was whim and I commanded freedom on aberrant wings of arrogance and recklessness. The call of the wild led me to believe I could go anywhere and do anything without consequence. I was without a heart.
Prison removed my wings and began the process of self-reflection. Every conceit laid bare, there could be no denial that we are all responsible for our place in the world. Freedom must be tempered with accountability, empathy and understanding. If I ever wanted to be identified with humanity then I couldn’t act like some lawless creature of fantasy waiting to be eliminated by the civilized world. IT was not until I recognized the animal in my blood that standing on two feet as a man became possible. In doing so my new form “received a human heart”, an awareness that being a man requires the will to do the right thing even when it is the hardest thing. It took prison for me to understand compassion for others is a requisite for being human.