For the Birds - Mourning and The True Circle of Life

>>  Sunday, January 23, 2011

Not said in the usual manner... This post is "for the birds"!  On this Provoked entry I compared our reverence for the beautiful (wild) ones as opposed to the (invisible) "poultry" birds.  And I always thought that when I finally got around to the introspection of my own animal journey I would begin with my deep love for cows... or cats... or dogs.  But the truth should start with my first love of the winged creatures.

I have over the years collected figurines, plates, jewelry, ornaments and art of birds.  Cardinals, sparrows, storks, woodpeckers, owls, wrens... And flamingos:

And cranes, herons, gulls, and other water birds...

And these possessions of mine surrounded me as I prepared "chickens" for dinner... And delighted in eating "breasts" and "wings" for supper.  I wonder regretfully at my numb disconnect.  Loving a flock of beautiful hens now, I'm ever so sad (and sickened) at times... That I know how they taste.  It is something I can hardly forgive myself for.

But this personal post that is "for the birds" goes deeper than this... It is about my first recollection of an animal not through a photo but through the experience of loving one.  His name was Lucky.  I "won" Lucky when I was 7 years old at an amusement park "spin the wheel" game.  He was a brilliant chartruse plumed parakeet.  After school I would let him out of his cage and he'd fly all around his bigger "outside" home.  He'd land on my finger and allow me to caress his lace-like feathers.  Lucky was my first animal companion.  But he taught me more than the gentleness required to care for such a small and fragile being.  I learned more than sharing space and time with a friend.  He also instructed me on my first lessons of life and the inevitable loss that comes with it.

When I came home from school one day, as was my usual habit I went to free Lucky from his cage.  Such a shock for me when I saw him not perched and happily awaiting our flight and fun together.  But rather, I saw him lifeless at the bottom of the cage.  My poor heart was broken.  I never saw, or really comprehended death before.  And especially not death to my beloved little bird.  My Mother and I placed him in a box and found a suitable piece of ground to lay his body in.  I remember that we both cried... And we agreed that Lucky had gone to Heaven... And I thought then that this made perfect sense.  Birds wings can escape earthly bounds... Like angels - they could fly to God!

This naive introduction to death was a necessary part of my childhood.  It is how we grow and understand the realities of our physical limitations...  It helped me understand that bodies "end."  But there are many who wish to confuse death and killing as part of the same.  They will say that eating chickens (or peacocks) is the "circle of life."  They will even have classes and form groups with children to instruct them on the taking of chicken's lives... Some courageous young ones like Whitney Hillman speak out against these lessons in detachment.  But the point is, and I would have known this even as a 7 year old... That death, that we have no control over, is not the same as killing.  And that "the circle of life" should not be another's decision - Especially when the killer has everything to gain.  These are lies that the animal industries and an unthinking culture perpetuate in order to continue with their greed and unexamined ways.

What makes for a grievable life? from L.A. Watson on Vimeo.

So, I urge everyone who still eats "chickens"... If you marvel at the hummingbirds, swans, swifts, chickadees and the like - Please understand that these are all the same birds.  And if you love birds, know that they have the same desire to live as all of us.  All death is sad.  But all should have a right to die within his own time...

This post dedicated to Lucky... To Liz.. And to Pop.
~Go Vegan


veganelder January 24, 2011 at 5:40 AM  

Excellent...thank you for your writing.

Bea Elliott January 25, 2011 at 9:31 PM  

Thank you veganelder... And Doris...

I'm emerging from a kind of self-imposed muzzle in my advocacy. Thank you both for making it so safe to "un-cocoon" myself.