Thursday, June 21, 2007

An Open Letter to the Hawks

Dear Red-Tailed Hawks:

For quite some time, I have enjoyed watching you circle above the land, floating on the thermals, presumably looking for prey. I’ve even seen you sitting on the utility wires, and a few times standing by the side of the road. Given your strong numbers, your clear proximity, and your superior vision (eight times greater than human eyesight!), I can’t help but wonder a few things about your behavior.

My land is increasingly overrun with voles. The unsightly valleys they dig, yards and yards and yards of them, exacerbated by erosion, just get worse every year. They’ve even killed trees, and my neighbors tell similar stories, including that the problem just gets worse every year. We also all complain about rabbits, and again, they are worse every year. Last year, they destroyed my entire orchard, save one apricot tree. This year, we are all growing large gardens, even those of us who decided in past years that we just didn’t have the time, largely because the high price of gasoline has pushed the price of produce so high. We’d hate to lose this to rabbits.

The encyclopedias report that your primary diet is rodents and small game like rabbits, so we were wondering—what’s the problem? Why don’t you swoop down and help yourselves? Granted, some prey, like birds and chipmunks, keep the cover of the trees, but I can’t walk across the lawn to the garden without seeing voles, and as I strive to keep the grass cut—why don’t YOU see them? Rabbits too—they get hit in the road everyday. Is your vision overrated? Or do you just not care?

I admit my species can’t do much better. Just as we can’t seem to control the voles and rabbits, the hawks in Washington circle above the country seemingly just as aloof as you to our persistent and growing problems. A quarter of the country’s people have no health insurance, and as costs rise, that percentage does too, so people wait until they must go to the emergency room, a much higher cost to the nation than preventative care. Funding and management for natural disasters remains inadequate, and past victims are still coldly left to fend for themselves. Social Security will need some adjustments, and even though it now shows a surplus the government uses to fund its debt in other areas, and even though preventing a crisis still a few decades away is readily achievable now, the will to do so seems absent. Pollution keeps getting worse, but the government continues to study it, deny it, whitewash it, excuse it. And education is so bad that we even graduate college students who can’t write correct sentences—and yet we keep cutting funding for education.

Our hawks ARE good at attacking things when they want—but only attacking. Going after Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan was one thing, but invading Iraq seems so ill-advised that even the administration’s party big-wigs advised against it; brushing off such seasoned advice, the administration arrogantly attacked anyway, confident of quick victory and ushering in a peace that would spread throughout the region, even to Palestine. Instead, we now see endless civil war in Iraq, thousands of deaths, and a drain of billions of dollars—all likely to continue for several years.

These hawks even blindly attack their own allies in their own partisan operations, to their own detriment. After hiring a well-respected Secretary of State, a seasoned general of the FIRST Iraq war, the administration side-lined him, replacing him with a Sovietologist—who has managed to sour own relations with Russia to the point where their President has threatened to re-aim missiles at Western targets. Although elder party leaders have stressed the importance of talking to regional players like Syria and Iran, the administration refuses to negotiate unless absolutely forced to do so. And when one good public servant accurately questioned the administration’s distortion of “factual” evidence, administration officials rabidly turned to punish him by destroying his wife’s CIA cover—an act of treason. They followed up by lying to the grand jury, in strict violation of the U.S. law they’re sworn to protect.

When anyone questions the hawks, those critics are ridiculed as advocating “cut and run” policies—even seeing their patriotism attacked. This is an old game, of course, as even early presidents like John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were attacked as cowards when they opted to build trade with other nations instead of attacking them. Ironic that we refer to a strongly constructed woodworking joint as a “dovetail.” Building is so much harder, and takes so much more long-term courage than attacking things. No wonder that Jefferson famously observed that given the choice between government and the press, he’d prefer the press—and no wonder that the administration so hates and mistrusts the press. After all, I’ve frequently noted small birds chasing hawks away.

Perhaps, then, you hawks are simply judicious, knowing when to pursue, when to back away. Perhaps you simply choose your targets carefully, seeking balance, not vendetta. And, I suppose, you could fairly ask that since I have a dog who has already proven her competence against both vole and rabbit, why don’t I simply let her loose to address the invasion? The answer is that she wouldn’t be so focused, but would hunt indiscriminately, wandering far off our home turf.

Come to think of it, maybe we don’t have hawks in Washington after all. Maybe we have dogs.


1 comment:

Paper Fan Club said...

My folks live in the country and they had two annoying hawks this spring that decided to evict some birds out of their nest and move in. What bullies!