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Again, my kitchen window stopped me from rinsing a cup in the sink. Upon the wintered grass of my backyard, sat a hawk, almost motionless, its mandibles slowly moving. On closer look, its yellow claws pinioned a junior squirrel, its chest split apart. Piercing eyes seemed to scan the perimeter as if another bird of prey might be around and spoil its feeding. Then, its beak ripped more of the squirrel’s entrails and continued chewing—unhurriedly, methodically.

After moments, revulsion pulled me from the window to grieve the plight of the squirrel and to accept that animals’ survival depended upon such feedings, but I was still rattled while holding onto my stool. Never had I seen killing so close.  

Later, I returned to the kitchen window and looked out. No sign of the hawk, probably a broadwing with its wide speckled chest of feathers. No sign of the junior squirrel either, only the grey fur of its pelt marking the place of the slaughter. Other squirrels looked on at a distance.  

Despite the ordinariness of this feeding, it raised my sensitivity toward violence: its universality, its swath of destruction, and its ripping apart communities and infrastructures. Yet, within the welter of such mayhem, rebuilding occurs or sites abandoned—at least until last Wednesday’s desecration of the U. S. Capitol and the despoliation of our moral fiber.

We’ve yet to see how this tragedy will be addressed, especially since we belong to the human species, not that of raptors or birds of prey. Certainly more law and order will not work: its verbiage, meaningless with loopholes for more diversion.

If only our leaders knew how to kneel…

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