Barbara Cawthorne Crafton is an Episcopal priest and author.
She heads The Geranium Farm, an institute for the promotion of spiritual growth.
Title: Tiny Birds and an Unworthy Goal
by Barbara Cawthorne Crafton
My new rule is so simple that one might think it shouldn’t be a rule at all — just common sense. It is this: I come home for supper. Even if I have a meeting at night, I don’t have to stay at the church until 7pm — I have the right to eat supper in my own home.
Right now, and for another month or so, supper is on the porch. Right now, and for a few more weeks, the hummingbirds eat their evening meal when we do, unless they catch sight of each other, in which case they forget all about eating and try to chase each other out of the garden. Those are right fierce little birds.
There are three clean, filled feeders in this yard. Each one has four ports from which a hummer can feed — that’s a total of twelve. There are two hummingbirds — it could be three, but I think it’s only two birds. There is more than enough for everyone. And they need to eat a lot right now — they always need to eat a lot, but their migration season is approaching, and they really need to tank up. It’s a matter of life and death. But again and again, they choose to pursue destruction of the other over their own survival.
What’s funny about their mutual destruction project is that — to us, anyway — they look just the same. They are the same species. With the exception of the raptors, who will hunt other birds, the folks at the feeder mostly leave the members of other species alone — they focus their wrath on members of their own. A hummingbird has nothing to fear from a cardinal or a woodpecker, though they are many times bigger than the hummer. She goes about her business, drawing nectar from one of the ports, while the larger bird enjoys seeds from the hanging tray nearby.
I think about them a lot in this election season,how they will ignore their own best interests in order to destroy their rivals, like the politician who asserted that his party had one principal goal: to defeat their opponent. One goal? Not to get control of the economy? Not to address any one of the other dozen issues that cry out for statesmanlike attention? Just to defeat your opponent? That’s IT?
It seems a bit small.
Of course politicians want to win.
But you can win without killing both yourself and the other guy.