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Jayne Lyn Stahl Headshot


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Yesterday, as I was pulling into the driveway of my apartment building, a baby bird went rushing off in terror. I wasn't driving any faster than usual and, as always,I made it a point to look first to be sure there weren't any children, pets, or other cars in sight, but what I didn't see was the most darling, and vivacious little creature who raced away as if from a monster. The thought that any action of mine could terrify this bird tormented me.

As I lifted a bag of groceries from the back seat,I started to think about instinct, a shared instinct that all living things have for their own survival. I thought about what terrible power we humans possess, if only because we think of survival in human terms.We think of survival as a conscious act, and not as the flight of some desperate bird.

How many times have we passed dead squirrels, or cats in the road? How many rabbits, and deer have been sacrificed merely for the pleasure of the hunter? What a narcissistic race, the human race;how twisted and perverse we have become that tiny songbirds run from our horsepower, that our oceans reek from our sewage. We have imposed ourselves upon nature with such venom, and pathology that global warming is but one conspicuous payback for how we have raped, and plundered the elements. We have been fighting a preemptive war on the environment for generations, and have the audacity to call it progress.

But, to think that this tiny little creature would have such a developed sense of intrinsic danger while we, who like to think of ourselves as higher up on the evolutionary food chain, continually concoct new, and improved ways to delude ourselves of the simple, basic fact of our own survival is an omnipresent source of wonder.

We pollute the air we breathe,the water we drink, food we eat, all bear witness to how out of touch we are with the connection between our actions, and our own inevitable extinction. Is sophistication, and intellection, a good thing if it engender such an egregious gulf between who we are, and what we must do to survive? It is all terribly simple for that bird...see trouble, and run.And, after all, it is only arrogance that makes us think that human life is somehow more valuable, and that the airplanes will build are more evolved than the eloquent flight of a robin.

That anything a human being could do which would make a bird run for fear of her life fills me with horror. The survival of the planet depends upon respect for that little creature, as well as all living things.