Our neighbor worries that the ravens are eating his corn.  We try to ease his concerns.  The ravens are too young yet.  They can’t feed themselves.  They’re carnivores.  They don’t give a rip about his corn just coming up.

But preconceptions and prejudices are hard to break.  

Hopi don’t like black looking birds because they supposedly destroy their crops.  There’s a simple solution, however.  The best Hopi farmers plant extra for the rodents and birds.  In a resource rich environment predators cease to be a problem. 

In which case perhaps we need to unlearn our distrust.  Trust and distrust, afterall, are also learned responses.  Ideally we first learn trust.  When we come into the world our mothers and fathers greet us with love and caring, food and nurture. 

But if a harsh world greets us, we can just as easily  learn distrust.  A scary dog chases the chickens and they learn to fear dogs.  A farmer shoots ravens and they learn to steer clear of the farmers.  

More comes down yesterday on the other side of the fence.  Chester, the stray pit, ambles up and nuzzles him.  He’s already shown something like affection toward the birds.  I note the variety of species running and flitting about the yard and getting along.  Two varieties of chickens, hummingbirds, doves, cats, dogs, wild birds, ravens, humans.  We all largely mind our own business.  We’ve all learned that this is a resource abundant, safe environment and we respond accordingly.  Introduce hunger though, and hunger will breed desire, desire begets aggression and soon we’ll all be going at each other.

The ravens sit on the fence and I talk to them. They listen and respond with their murmurs.

My heart goes out to Heinrich, and I appreciate (just a bit) the difficulty of observing and being with something that is supposed to exist in the wild.  Even our remote presence or insertion of a variable disrupts the process.  At this point, we don’t have wild fledgelings; their behavior may in fact be some weird hybrid of raven, people and chicken.  What ill-equipped monsters are we creating?

This is a terrible thing.

I still can’t help but talk to the ravens though.  They can trust me, I tell them.  They can trust Pearish and Kerry and the others that feed them.  We won’t hurt them.  But they can’t trust anyone else.  They can’t trust the world, I tell them. The world will hurt them.  Most other humans will hurt them.  I feel a sudden sadness in this recognition.  That’s what we are as a species:  the ones that hurt others.  We will eat anything in sight.  We disdain a creature just because it shits in a plot we consider our yard.  We will kill other living things just for the sport of it.  Sometimes we gain pleasure in hurting.  We’re sick.

Emancipation comes in honoring another life over your own.  Curbing your own appetite so that another may live.

I want the ravens to stay with us.  I want them as friends.  But that’s my selfish desire and I can’t impose it on them.  The day may come when I will have scare the bejesus out of them.  They may have to become terrified of us.  Just so that they may live.

© Kerry Hardy


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