This last week has been difficult. Humanity has been disappointing — at least the humanity we see in the media. If we are to believe it, people are full of hate and bitterness. The differences between us are so much greater than the similarities. But if I can be honest, I call BULLSHIT to that. Humanity is just as flawed and beautiful as it’s ever been, it’s just that with media and social media, it’s much easier and more entertaining to focus on the differences — to let the actions of a few represent the all. To sum it up “Good things whisper while bad things shout” (that’s a lyric from a Matt Nathanson song. If you don’t know who he is, you should find out). We focus on the bad things because they are louder.
Don’t worry, this won’t be a political post. I’ve kept myself from commenting on the presidential election and tried to keeping my opinions removed from my social media pages, b/c I still believe in humanity and democracy, and I still hope that people can see how important it is that the candidate who represents us, does not also represent hate but is someone who can see the similarities of all people and move us forward.
It hit me particularly hard this week when after refraining from posting political thoughts on FB or Twitter, I finally gave in and wrote these words:
All lives matter.”
I had no idea that writing something as simple as a statement in which I believe ALL life is precious would offend anyone. I had no idea that there was a war happening on twitter and that these sentiments were being called out as racist. It came from a place in which I believed ALL life is precious. That saying one person’s life was valued more than another’s was simply wrong — in itself, that is a form of racism. It came from feminist theory. Equality for all. A united front.
I read lots of nasty stuff on social media (not necessarily aimed at me since my friends and I are pretty good at respecting each other) but out there in Twitterland where there are no rules of engagement and where strangers can be assholes. It overloaded me.
I went offline for the weekend. I’ve been doing this more and more when tragedies happen, but in general, it’s my conscious effort to live in my bubble and re-energize. You can’t change people’s minds on social media. They are very convinced that their opinion is more important — or right. At times social media is much more focused on being heard than listening. It takes away from me. It zaps my energy. It’s not healthy.
I spent a better part of the weekend outdoors helping my husband remove a holly bush that ran the length of our driveway. We’d come across several bird nests that were empty and we were both thankful that we had waited long enough to remove the bush until the babies were all gone. But then my husband took a big chunk of bush down and soon realized we had a live nest with fledglings. Poor Mom and Dad Sparrow were devastated.
My husband came in looking upset. “I think they’re all dead,” he said. To be fair we’d never really paid attention to birds until three years ago when we moved into our house and the previous owners left their bird feeders. I had always has cats and we’d never dream of having bird feeders (or cat feeders as they’d have been known). At first, we were kind of lazy about even refilling it, but we remembered to buy a bag at one of our numerous trips to the hardware store. The feeder sits a few feet from our sliding glass doors. That’s when we started to notice the cardinals and the mourning doves. There’s a woodpecker, who I hear echoing in the trees when he’s not at our feeder, and the blue jays that chase away the sparrows and the wrens. We somehow became people who watched birds eating outside their windows. We’ve taken pictures of the cardinals in the snow and even go out in snowstorms to make sure that the birds will be okay all winter. We seriously, became weird bird people.
So I could tell my husband was pretty upset. But then he came back in and said he’d found one or two in the underbrush of the holly. We didn’t know what to do. It was getting dark and we weren’t sure whether the parents would continue to take care of them – we simply didn’t know the rules of the birds.
I went to bed that night still thinking about those birds and how distressed the parents were — because if nothing else in life, maybe all parents loved their offspring (well — except the ones who eat their offspring). I remembered that earlier in the day I had saved an empty nest we’d found because it was too pretty to toss (and frankly I had no idea what the hell I was going to do with it as a little voice in my head said this is how hoarding starts).
In the morning, we took that nest and a vacant bird house from the back garden and sandwiched it inside the house. With rubber gloves, we went out to scavenge the birds and I supervised and cut through the thickets of holly while my husband grabbed the fledglings. It was a total Search and Rescue mission. We managed to find two. My husband dropped them into their new purple bird house and we tied it up to the fence post so Mom and Dad could see them.
Now if you’re thinking — big deal, let me just be clear. Mister Softee (ice cream truck) drove past our house while we were combing leaves and debris looking for tiny little feathered creatures. A second ice cream truck came by. We never get two ice cream trucks on the same day and we are never literally standing in our driveway when they come. The Universe was definitely testing our commitment to the Search and Rescue. Neighbors were watching us crawling around in the dirt in the midst of the search phase of our mission. We spent HOURS trying to rescue BIRDS. We kept pointing out that we were nut jobs and that they’d probably die anyway.
So two out of three was something, we agreed. Then we waited until the parents were in view and we relocated the house to a shadier part of the yard. The biggest question was, would Mom and Dad accept the new nest/location? Within minutes of being secured at their new location, Mom came by with dinner for her two babies. It was reassuring.
The thing is, it was a lot of trouble to save two little sparrows. They might not even live (but they sure as hell were feisty!). Mom and Dad might shit on our cars for years to come as payback for destroying their homes and possibly killing their babies (we are still hoping to recover baby #3), but we TRIED. We tried to help them because I still believe that all life is precious. That even little birds deserve a chance at surviving.
And seriously, I really love my husband for a) feeling so bad that he knocked down the nest and b) not once thinking my rescue plan was ridiculous.
Also, finding a new home for a family of sparrows was also a much better use of my time and energy than social media.