“Oh, aren’t they adorable?” I asked Spouse just yesterday as we stood in our front yard observing the new crop of baby squirrels that appear every spring about this time.
Carefree little furry rodents chased each other around our big oak tree, scurrying up to perch on low, spreading limbs to peer at us peering back.
At that moment, a shadow passed over us as a red-tailed hawk circled overhead, casing the joint for lunch. The clueless baby squirrels were easy prey and more than once I’d watched helplessly as a hawk swooped down to skewer one of “my” babies with its razor sharp talons.
The evil beasties won’t even release the poor squealing squirrel when I throw whatever is handy, or even if I run screaming right at them.
“I’m really going to get a BB gun this year,” I threatened for the 100th time. I say that every year but Spouse convinces me that I’d end up in the slammer for one reason or another if I start messing with guns. No doubt he’s right.
So this morning on my neighborhood walk, I come upon one of my neighbors traipsing around his yard with a BB gun, looking up into the tree branches. Aha! Now this guy’s got the right idea!
Before I can open my mouth to commend him and ask if I can borrow it for the horrible hawk infestation on my street, he points the gun upward and fires. AT A SQUIRREL!
“What are you doing?” I cry, when I really want to say, “That’s not a hawk – is your eyesight really that bad or are you just an idiot?”
“Gotta get rid of these pesky squirrels,” he says, like he deserves a medal or something. “They’re wrecking my pool enclosure and stipping my blueberry bushes. We need to import more hawks to get rid of them.”
All I could do was stand there with my mouth hanging open.
It reminded me of my tennis buddy who disagrees with me on every single social or moral issue right down the line. She’s hardline liberal and I’m hardline conservative and never the twain shall meet. Yet we consider each other friends and enjoy playing tennis together often. How? We agree to disagree and leave politics off the court.
I guess sometimes neighbors have to agree to disagree. That or give everybody BB guns and let them shoot it out until there are no squirrels or hawks or even people left and although everybody wins, nobody wins.
As they say, there are always two sides to every issue, and if we’re emotionally involved, it’s tremendously hard to see the other side.
Kind of like the two sides of the aligator issue. We Floridians have learned to live with gators and respect their habits and habitats. After all, they were here first. They can’t help who they are – we have to just accept that they devour fluffy little dogs that come near them and keep our dogs away. And during mating season, they get aggressive, so we give them extra space. LOTS of space.
But some northerners don’t get it and think they should be wiped out completely – why tolerate a killer species that serves mankind no useful purpose? (That point is certainly debatable.)
During my conversation with such a person, I found it difficult to see his side until I realized he was speaking from fear. Fear of the unnknown and fear born of ignorance. He knew very little about gators except all the bad stuff he read in the newspaper on the rare occasion when someone is killed by one. So his opinion was formed by unbalanced data. Information weighted to one side of the issue, with nothing for counter-balance.
Which means, I suppose, that we must take it upon ourselves to become educated about both sides of an issue before we stake our position. Or break out the BB guns and be the last one standing.