Once a crow sat on a branch and contemplated the condition of man. Not “man” in general, but the condition of the cursing, red-faced fellow looking directly up at the crow with a stone in one hand. What was he thinking? After all, how far could he throw that stone? And how fast could he duck, cover, and run to escape what came back at him from above? He’d be wise just to drop the thing, just move on without pressing his luck and leave the crow to continue raising its insistent call over the length and breadth of the neighborhood. Was anybody listening to crows of late, though, besides those reaching for their own stones to cast perhaps? Where else were humans going to receive anything like the potential assistance offered gratis by crows? Setting great store in being “firmly grounded” wherever they found themselves, how far could humans possible see in front of them by comparison to even fledgling crows? Not half far enough, judging by all the available evidence. If it wasn’t at some bird or animal they’d hurled anything they could get their hands on over the up-and-down course of their species’ development, it was at each other, never looking far enough ahead to grasp the consequences. Hit-and-run skirmishes over some little scrap of land or some scrap of an idea that one side took for absolute truth and the other took for absolute rubbish—what a way to spend your short time here on earth. Searching all the while for a bigger stone to heave. But this suicide pact by an entire species wasn’t what moved the crow to the contemplation of heedless humankind. They’d increasingly over-scavenged the place, hadn’t they, and who would be surprised if they ultimately did all of themselves in while fighting over the last snatch of it to be had? More pressing, however, at least to the crow’s mind if not to theirs, was the likelihood humans would take any number of other species along into extinction with their shortsightedness. There’d been a good deal of discussion about just such a possibility among the birds already, led by eagles and hawks on one side and ostriches and turkeys on the other. Where one group argued for some form of preemptive strike from above to impress upon humanity the dangerous folly of its ways, their opponents held forth at length about the risks involved in antagonizing such vengeful creatures and the benefits instead of steering well clear of them. Which left the crows and other carrion birds somewhere in the middle. They were hardly blind to the stakes involved but mindful as well of how much they owed to the subjects of this debate. Weren’t humans, in their own inimitable way, the best friends crows had ever known? No bird was half so unstinting in what it shared as humans were, and most times without a second thought. Such largesse, on open display in every garbage dump and in every gutter of megacities and small towns alike, should not go unacknowledged surely. It was almost as though humans were constitutionally unable to take a bite of anything themselves without leaving behind an equal portion for the crows, often more. For some much more, with hardly a moment’s hesitation in spreading the bounty of their waste far and wide. So what was this fellow now winding up to fling his stone thinking? Didn’t he recognize his one true soul mate on the planet?
Copyright © 2020 by Geoffrey Grosshans