Life is complicated. As I sat in my office yesterday, I was looking out the front window. The bird feeder was a flurry of activity as Black Capped Chickadees, Cardinals, Mourning Doves, Flickers and even a beautiful Red Bellied Woodpecker flew in and out in a feeding frenzy. I was enjoying the feast.
Suddenly a Hawk swoop in unnoticed. The birds were in such a frenzy and coming and going so fast that they didn’t notice the hawk swooping in. I watched what would be a sad ending for the Chickadee or even the Cardinal. The hawk deftly landed in behind and hid in a large bush about 3 feet from the feeder. He was in stealth mode, waiting to pounce on his unsuspecting victim. I watched with a growing sense of discomfort.
What should I do? I wondered for a brief second or two if I should scare the hawk away and thus prevent his needed meal or just let nature take its course and watch a murder unfold. I’ve spent my whole life in the outdoors and I fully know that nature happens as it happens and the basically “mother” knows best. But here I sat with the power of life and death in my hands. I knew in an instant that I didn’t want to witness the slaughter. When I’ve come upon a pile of feathers well after the fact and known what took place I usually felt it happened the way it was supposed to happen and I couldn’t have done anything to prevent it, nor should I given the chance but now the academic detachment was giving way to the emotional pull of life and death.
I made my decision. I got up and opened the front door with enough noise to startle the whole gathering and the Hawk flew off in a noisy flutter. The minute the door to the front porch opened the victims and the would be assassin flew off in a half dozen directions at once. I don’t know if I should have intervened or not but I did.
For those of you who are Star Trek fans you will know what I mean when I note that I violated Star Trek’s “prime directive” that personnel should never interfere with the healthy development of alien life and culture. The prime directive means I should have left nature to take its course.
But, like I said, life is complicated. Life is precious. I didn’t want to or need to see the hawk take the life of one of those little birds. Sometimes the “right thing” to do is more complicated than simply following a prime directive. Jesus left us some “prime directives” too, didn’t he? The hawk will no doubt eat. What happens will happen but whenever and wherever I can save life I will. When in doubt, choose life and love, especially the smaller birds. Sooner or later the hawks have their day. But not today.