Solo: bird as metaphor

Solo, the one-winged eagle

At the raptor center at Glen Helen, there’s a bald eagle named Solo.  He’s over 30 years old, and lost his left wing after running into a power line.  My daughter loves going to see all the raptors there, but she’s especially fond of Solo.  The other day on our way down the bumpy lane, she said, “Solo is happy because he knows I’m coming to see him!”

When I saw the news about Osama Bin Laden yesterday, I was reminded again how much I’m a pacifist.

Some people believe that a human can be inherently evil.  I believe that humans are born with curiosity and kindness, the natural state of a child.  If, for whatever reason, those natural characteristics are neglected or broken, sometimes a person can gnarl as they grow, becoming one who does horrible (or “unskilled“) acts.  Experiences mix with beliefs, among other essential ingredients, and shape a person.

I am not defending Osama Bin Laden.  I am grateful that no one close to me died in the attacks on September 11, 2001.  Perhaps if I had experienced that loss more closely, I would have felt some relief or closure at Bin Laden’s death.  (I’m sure I would never have partied and chanted happily, however.)  But when I saw the headline, “Bin Laden Is Dead, Obama Says”, the sick feeling that spread through my gut, the repulsion, the sadness, the pain, was over the fact that our government (“we the people”) had killed someone.  I feel this way whenever I hear of a person who has received the death penalty being executed, no matter the crime.

I want us to be a better species.  I want us to find ways other than war to get along together here.  I believe we can each move toward peace, in small ways that might become huge: if we pay attention, and focus on other humans with kindness and open hearts.  I admit to being an unapologetic original hippie-kid idealist optimist (OHIO for short)!  But I have a poet’s sense that the intentional taking of a life disturbs nature  in ways we can’t know.  (This includes bugs and spiders, and I’m not yet reconciled on how to deal with them, so I continue to kill and maim.  And I am pro-choice, so some will call me a hypocrite.)

At a gathering of women last night, we sang, “One by one everyone comes to remember we are healing the world one heart at a time…”  Solo, American icon, left wing  missing, right wing irrelevant, can’t fly, but would hunt and kill if he could.  In order to eat, in order to survive.  (How to heal a wounded bird?  How to heal a wounded nation?  Take care of him, and think about how we affect each other.  How to heal a wounded world?  One heart at a time?)

Does the killing of Bin Laden heal the pain we feel over the loss of those who died on September 11, 2001?  His death is not about healing, it’s about vengeance, but I’d feel better if  we were trying to do better in the world.

I bet Solo would, too.