I’m a volunteer at Bird TLC. It’s a place where injured birds come to be healed. We see everything from the smallest chickadee to the largest eagle. Some are lucky and can return to the wild. Some are not so lucky and become education birds because they’ll never be able to successfully fend for themselves. And some are downright unlucky and have to be euthanized because there is just nothing that can be done to save them.
I was at the center the morning the injured ravens were brought in. You remember. Some idiot who mistook his manhood for his gun thought he’d prove just how big a guy he was by shooting birds out of trees. Alright, I don’t know for sure that it was a man who did it. But I’m willing to bet a pretty substantial amount of money that it was. Statistics on these types of incidents pretty overwhelmingly lean towards a male.
Of the four ravens shot, two died. Two survived. Of the two who survived, one will never fly free again because the injury was too great.
This shooting happened not all that long after the paintball attacks in Anchorage. Of course, the shooters in that episode made life a little easier for all of us by actually taping what they did. That way we didn’t have to spend inordinate amounts of police time and money to find them.
For some reason, these two incidents stick in my mind as two sides of the same coin. In both instances you had people who, for whatever reason, could only feel good about themselves by making some other living being feel bad. Unable to feel important in any other way, they chose cowardly dominance and pain over helpless creatures as a way to show the rest of us just how important they are. Timothy McVeigh is their soul mate.
I lived in a small bush community as a member of a minority group for long enough to know what it feels like to be singled out because of my race. I also lived there long enough to know what it feels like to be surrounded by people of every color and belief possible and know I was in the safe embrace of friends.
The racists in Barrow were usually the same group of people with little minds and no heart or spirit who hurt both their families and animals. After awhile, I stopped getting mad and just felt sorry for them. People with souls so atrophied are to be pitied. Anyone who can look at another person and see only some ugly stereotype has no spirit of their own. That’s why they don’t dare see a heart and soul in other living creatures, whether human or animal. To admit it is found in others would be to admit the emptiness inside of them.
The people who shoot birds for the sheer pleasure of killing have souls that have never soared on an eagle’s wings or marveled at a loon’s call. They are to be pitied for the tiny ugly world in which they must live. When they periodically rear their ugly little heads and force us to be aware of them, we should move swiftly to see that they do not damage our spirits, our love of all living creatures and our respect for each other.
Mostly though, we should just feel sorry for the sad little lives to which they have condemned themselves.