It is a gorgeous San Francisco day. I took a brisk walk to power up my mind this morning, marveling at the tribal rhythm of the 9-5, that walks dull-garbed humans listening to clever podcasts that assure their psyches of relevance in their parochial digital circles.
At some point, a quick break for a coffee on the fire escape. Frisky hummingbirds are diving and soaring, celebrating life, beauty, flight and a feast of flies and fruit in urban backyards of late summer. The hummingbirds approach individually, to inspect me in effervescent pause, sweet eye contact melting my worries away. Look! Young kingfishers or blue jays are mimicking them, their nuptial plumage mere flecks of blue to the human eye. Maybe I should keep a bird-feeder. Nah, that’s not natural. Maybe I should get bonsai fruit trees for the fire escape. Are these the same birds from last year? Have they known me for years now? Why do they say Hello?
Suddenly a loud screeching tears the late summer sky, announcing today’s tableau of military pornography. The theme music of war rends everything at a cacophonous 150 decibels on the ground. The neighbourly hummingbirds and kingfishers dart to their trees and a chorus of appeals and explanations flow from one fruit tree to the other, as mother birds comb the air, trying to locate their young. Young birdies fly in hapless circles of traumatized search with distressed melodies that echo my mind.
A brutal realization dawns as it does every year. These sounds duplicate the theme music of our wars. They are perpetual sounds for many nations where bedtime lullabies, wedding vows, eager exams preparation, dinners, verdant love scenes, rivers, rocks and wind are all fragmented in seconds, when similar flying machines sprinkle democracy around the world.
In San Francisco, they will sprinkle over 150 tons of greenhouse gases this year. They will be lauded below from rooftop parties. Cynical youngsters scream for the Blue Angels, with leaden vivacity of legal narcotics and voices augmented by fermented potions. This love for Blue Angels is asymmetric to their incessant Facebook posts about animal cruelty, Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women, Korean dog-eating traditions or national rallies for that female presidential candidate or whatever outrage the hive-mind prescribes. Mindfulness and human rights remain restricted to their social media personas.
I palm my ears into tight white noise as soon as I hear these ‘Blue Angels’ approach. My own blue angels are my neighbourhood kingfishers, hummingbirds and blue jays. One of them is stridently and repeatedly asking some faceless God a question. He is stuck on it, like a traumatized war child. Can you guess his relentless question? What does he want to know?