The Lesson of Roadkill

May 30, 2010 |  by

I was driving through the desert today when…SCHWACK!

In the rearview mirror, I saw the little bird lying on the road. I drove another 100 yards, automatically. Then I had to turn around. I got out and went to the bird. It was dead.

It was a little brown sparrow. I picked him up and lay him in the dirt. He was beautiful. I moved his wings and saw how perfectly his feathers spread and retracted. He had been a perfect living being. I felt his life and his death, and the role I had played. And in seeing this – experiencing it – something extraordinary happened. Somehow, I was forgiven for killing him. I was forgiven for driving a hulking mass of metal and smashing nature.

When we don’t stop, we are like machines – we don’t feel. We don’t see the consequence of what we do. Until the 20th century, the wars of the world were usually fought by hand. We felt the killing we did, and were affected. Now our pilots drop their bombs and turn away.

It isn’t killing that’s unhuman – it’s unfeeling.


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