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Behaving Like a Raven

The common raven is among the smartest of birds. Perhaps you already know they are also good thieves. Perhaps the word “good” here is inappropriate. Two weeks ago I happened to see a raven drop into a tree near our house. The tree being downhill a bit, I was on the same level as the bird. It poked its beak into a small nest I had not noticed at first. In a quick move, it turned around with a small egg in its beak and flew off out of sight. I had seen the thief in action. It startled me to see this bit of predatory action. The raven is generally among the bigger birds in a neighborhood. Evidently their intelligence and strength give them confidence to take off with what is another bird’s hope for hatching the next generation. Maybe in nature we cannot call this evil, but it is sad, no more than the whole long line of predatory feeding that starts with the smallest creatures being eaten by the bigger ones. I wrote some time ago about how a bald eagle that frequents our neighborhood made off with one of the baby loons swimming next to its mother. Just making a living, I suppose, but I was sad to see it happen.

Perhaps I ought not complain about the natural course of events, when it is our own human practice to dominate and use the reproductive systems of cows, chickens and other domesticated animals to produce eggs that never hatch, and millions of gallons of milk that the momma cows never get to give to their own calves. Some days I have a harder time eating eggs lately, for some reason. You may be wondering if I am becoming a vegan. No, I’m just pondering how the world works, and how we as human beings can minimize the suffering that inevitably comes with dominant food gathering.

All of the above brings to mind the insane war Vladimir Putin has inflicted upon Ukraine. Ukraine is known as one of the great bread basket countries of the world. The fields of Ukraine normally produce wheat in such abundance that over 3 billion dollars worth is exported to countries mostly around the Mediterranean. In the era of the Soviet Union, Ukraine helped feed the vast Russian empire and earn vital foreign currency for Stalin’s Communist government. In the last couple of years Putin is trying to regain control of the people and the land of Ukraine. His personal ambitions appear to include becoming a new Czar who asserts Russian dominance over nearby countries. He is acting like the raven I observed stealing a smaller bird’s egg.

In Putin’s case he is also destroying a dream that many Russians had, of their own country belonging to the normal and sane European society. They were developing their freedoms, engaging with the rest of Europe in trade and travel, education and technology. Since Putin chose to attack Ukraine, close to one million citizens have emigrated from Russia. Many are young men wanting to avoid being drafted into the military, but many thousands more are the younger generation whose vision of their future could not tolerate the old-fashioned war of dominance. Some informed sources like the UK Ministry of Defense say Russia is losing a whole generation of its most technologically capable men and women in their twenties and thirties. Putin is thinking like a raven, and we can all hope that his war will not be successful. There are other raven-like personalities around the world watching.

Jesus replied, “ ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’" Matthew 22:37–39 (NLT)

© 2024 Stanley Hagemeyer

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1 Comment

Well said Stan. Again, you cause me to consider a perspective I had not though of before. Thanks.

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