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FLIGHT TO FREEDOM
- or FROM IT ?
Of course, it was not often that the four met; and in fact we have not before noticed it.
However, on this day, the eagle with his majestic wings, the robin with his beautiful breast, the willy wagtail with her flitting fancies and the nightingale were together.
It is indeed hard to see how they could have been so, since they are so very different; but with these birds, we have traced some of their earlier discussions and geometrical expressions of underlying unity of feather, of which the varieties were found to be interesting sub-creations.
On this occasion, they were all concerned. Even the nightingale had come down from his aerial empyrean, and his voice was the first heard.
"I am not," he declared with just that tinge of atmosphere that one might expect from so atmospheric a creature, "inclined to be critical, but when I see these humans belittle the gifts they are given, it nearly makes me want to give up singing."
"Of course," replied Wilhie the wagtail, "they are always at it. It seems to be endemic in that creation. No sooner do they have something wonderful than they seem to swell somewhere in heart or head or both, and before long they act like pigs without trotters."
"What in the world," asked the eagle, "is the meaning of that ?"
"Ah!" said Wilhie with a chirrup, "it means that if pigs get fat WITH trotters, then these get MOST fat like pigs without them, that cannot move."
"And, to be frank," pursued the redbreast, who was most often inclined to speak from the heart since his heart was so conspicuous in suggestion from the colour of his breast, "they often seem to make mud of their sties and then if they had not trotters, it would be a disgustingly paralytic sight, with the fat and the dirt and the immobility."
"But, with all due deference to modern art trends," queried the eagle, who often saw such things when certain contemporary artists expressed guilt or shame or ugliness or unemployment or something else in conspicuously meaningless or meaningfully revolting forms and called it art, in the fields, before making them costly offerings to those who like to exhibit, "does this have some meaning ? is there some useful purpose behind your words ? are pigs without trotters to become the not particularly edifying verbal artifice of our conversation ?"
There was that about Maji, that tendency to the more sonorous.
"Why didn't you see the last two Tuesday Computer sections of The Australian ?" asked Maggie, who had just joined the group, and had a marvellous magpie interest in picking up bits and pieces and storing them, for which he had been called Maggie the Memory.
Maji reflected with astonishment. "I have been surveying the foot and
mouth scene in
"Well put," said Wilhie. " But let me confess it openly before you all, that I did not even LOOK at The Australian in the last two weeks. I should like to know..."
"Of course," eagerly anticipated Maggie the Memory, "WHAT precisely was in those last two Tuesday editions of that paper I mentioned, that makes the revolting scene of Robin - I know he speaks from the heart, but have a heart, that was revolting - so necessary to parade before our little assemblage ? Would you like me to tell you ?"
"It would perhaps be fitting," mused Maji, "for it might redeem the time," and as he said this, his eye - for one tended to see one at a time, so intense they were, these roving orbs - was searching the heavens.
"Well," resumed Maggie, "it was another of those incredible mud patches they seem to create for the express purpose of ruining the pastures. They are actually requiring people on their Internet thing - you know, that electronic marvel they are always talking about, and in - to behave like children."
"Oh come!" said the nightingale, " do you think that is fair ? After all, they are ONLY requiring adults on the internet to present ONLY things SUITABLE for children, and that in numerous categories like religion and marriage and emotionally deep matters, requiring them at will in such areas, to keep things brief and 'discreet', not too intense, lest some Board or other should like to rifle them of some $10,000 and grab their thoughts off the net."
"I perceive your irony," resumed Maggie, "and agree. If I had my way, instead of behaving like a pack of juveniles - verbally, of course, I mean, verbally," he said, but there was a hint of a twinkle in his darting eye, "they would help their juveniles to be rejuvenated by bringing in some thought of the END and PURPOSE of their kind - mankind I believe they call it, but you never know nowadays, they are so careful about the term 'man', and many of them seem so unmanned altogether, that it is hard to know how they will manage, or womanage, or childage at all!"
"Childage! that is it," exploded the nightingale, whom they decided to call Watchman, though some preferred Watchbird, because of his elevated and inspiring position in the skies, from which such lyrics could descend to the lower ear.
"To bring up children whom - let me cite from a TV interview which quite frankly appalled me, and filled me with misgiving as I watched - one cannot cane because this would be an affront, is not on, is contrary to this and that: name it, they have it. When the children behave like gods - no, no, not the godly, as if they were little gods - is that not soon enough to treat them like children ? Of course, I believe in restraint, moderation, gentleness of spirit, forbearance in heart, love as the motive, but if ..."
"If," interjected Maggie with magnificent memory for so small a bird, but then the sparrows did not think him small, and even the seagulls tended to beware of him, unless of course they vastly outnumbered him and his family, "yes if," he repeated with a degree of sonority which the other birds found a bit on the beak, "you recall, I myself have brought up my young rather carefully."
"Yes," said Wilhie, who secretly admired Maggie's efforts, having watched her roll over a month-ager and give it no small lessons with beak and bump. "What I like about your methods, Maggie, is that you do it all with such obvious sincerity and need, and the young ones seem to take it - well, not lying down exactly, for they turn over on their backs when you are so engaged in discipline. Not only so, but you have such results. I do not wish to be rude, my dear Maggie, of course, but I often think, as I watch your youngsters, that of all the greedy, squawking, super-dependent youngsters I have seen, even when they are quite large, waiting to be FED, these take the biscuit."
"I only wish they would have more enterprise," responded Maggie, looking highly responsible and concerned, "and be more willing to take the biscuits tourists sometimes offer. However we teach them ..."
"And," blushed Wilhie, who really was intensely feminine, and believed in her heart that it was a good thing to be what you are and to be lots of it, "when I see the other side, what magnificently resourceful birds you eventually become, so decisive in act, so assured in swoop, so daring in enterprise, I cannot help thinking, well it is good to teach the young with care, not as if they are gods, but as if they are young and need help."
"Not, Maji joined in, "that they should be oppressed at all. Far from it. You know my methods, because if you have not actually noticed, then if you are Bible students, you should know that Moses dwelt on my methods, Let me quote it for you - it's in Deuteronomy 32:11:
Hovers over its young,
Spreading out its wings, taking them up,
Carrying them on its wings,
So the LORD alone led him,
And there was no foreign god with him.
"He made him ride in the heights of the earth..."
"That is just how I teach them to fly. Sometimes they just have to be made to face the reality that the sky is their métier, and they have to master the modes of flight, and in so doing, they have to be taught by someone who knows, who can do it, become apprentices before masters of the sky, and find the pull of wind and gravity, adjust, be caught and taught some more, corrected as required, and so grow."
"But they seem to like it!" Robin twittered. "They really do, although I have seen some who were a bit clumsy and I think they may have known the pressure of your beak at times ..."
"I am ALWAYS MOST RESTRAINED!" came the sweeping reply of Maji.
"Oh quite! quite!" responded Robin. "THAT is precisely the point. That is how you birds grow to be majestic, if I may say so. You blend reality and discipline with love and concern, and co-operate towards an obviously good end in view. It is no wonder that the U.S. has you as an emblem of State! Start humble and learn what is right, not slavishly, not as culture captives, not as slaves of 'ruling ideas', let alone statistical 'morals', as if every time people wanted this or that it became by some oddity, 'right', a sheer contradiction in terms, for all THAT can become is what it is, a statistical fact."
"Could not agree more," mused Maji, "but I fear we are monopolising the conversation.
"Not at all!" chirruped Wilhie, "for it is most interesting and my thoughts have followed yours like an eaglet on the wing!"
"Ah!" said Maji, "you have such an abundant courtesy. "But tell me, Maggie, did you pursue this human abdication of adulthood business, this censorship rejuvenation, if one could call it that, of adults, so that they could ... well, really unlearn how to fly verbally, and become as youths, lest youths should read what they write, and having no discipline, be hurt by it ?"
"Outrageous entirely!" said Maggie. "But they are humans! You KNOW what they do, killing people and kids, really, quite literally, and letting their morals and discipline go so far that now they talk, as if they are serious, about making adults keep, even in subjects like religion if the Board sees fit to tag them, to the level of children."
"You know," said the Nightingale, "they do so much with words, and yet they make a law which does not even bother to try to distinguish between good and evil, and so makes all, good or evil, SUBJECT to censorship, presumably so that they can simply shut things up on the Internet, IF they ever want to call ANYTHING evil. You know, Nietzsche the philosopher made meekness evil, and Hitler followed that line very practically, as in the Jewish 'solution', remember ?"
"Remember!" cried Maggie, who always loved to pick up little things and store them, and had picked up many little things on this matter and had made a sort of encyclopedic nest out of them.
"How could I forget the things passed down in the Memory Nest! They trust in themselves or their nation or their philosophy, and oh! no they COULD NEVER do such a thing as they turn out to do in the end, they are SO very sure of themselves. We, they say, as the Germans said, as the Japanese no doubt echoed, are SO civilised or whatever, that whatever ANYONE else might do, WE would not. What precisely is the ground of such an assurance ? for it appears asinine. It is not any one nation or race, some having in past times done things not far from what others in nearer ones have done. It is a human tendency, and woe to those who trust in themselves, or their nation, or their race, for that is the real racism!
"Of course, what is to come is HUMAN RACISM, when as perhaps is happening now, it is the race itself which loses its head, and CANNOT possibly make a mistake, or go sour, and must, you see, because of international set-ups, be inviolable. Perhaps if they had met Nero, in that most civilised Roman nation, likewise given too much power…"
"But what of Australia and censorship ?" asked Maji, whose other eye could be seen wandering in celestial quarters.
"In the case of the poor Australian capitulation to censorship program - they actually call it CLASSIFICATION, but it is really DELIMITATION and could end as defilement not only of liberty but of truth, you know, by statistical opinions made 'moral' - and what results ? People who have such a yen to rule, dominate and direct other people so often - I mean, not only paranoid individuals, but slaves to the sin of conformity, without being first conformed to God, who simply and simplistically make their own race or people the criterion, right or wrong - that they simply then do that. They may call it "good for you" or "necessary" or "the great nation speaks" or the "voice of the people", but when ANYTHING takes the prerogatives of God for man, man is unmanned in his parading superiority, and in the end comes, as did Rome with its horse made a god in the Senate, to look so ludicrous that one would think a crow could see the irony.
"Oh no! they cry. WE could not be so bad as that. Here it is too humorous to mock, it is so sad as almost to make one seek new dimensions of political tragedy for classification. THEY could not be as bad as that. They are so sure ... of themselves!"
Here Maggie seemed to reflect, which for so vivacious and versatile a bird was very encouraging to see. He continued:
Wilhie at this stage began to look very concerned, for she saw how deeply moved poor Maggie was, and liked to see him decisive and swift; but she realised there comes a time to meditate. So soon Maggie continued:
"It is, indeed, one thing and a grievous one, to neglect God, but when you confuse yourself or your nation or your morals*1 with HIS, then it is almost a sort of crucifixion again, with this addition, that with pomp and bombast man elevates himself while he acts as if to degrade God, speaking ? - what is that Paul says in II Thessalonians 2, as God in the Temple ? no "showing himself that he is God"! You could then learn about right and wrong from statistics, your own: just see how often you said or did something, and that MAKES it right. Define from doing! Columbian drug people seem to think that way, it sometimes seems, too. They too have DEVELOPED a way of self-regard."
"Yes," cried Maji, "for what does the word of God say ? This: "But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise" - that's in II Corinthians 10:12. I taught that to the eaglets very early, lest they became so big in the head that their aerodynamics would be affected."
Robin had been looking rather rapt. He now arose, danced about a little, made strange clicking noises, and abruptly ascended into the heavens, and before long the most magnificent music was travelling, quite uncensored actually, towards the birds who revelled, as always in the prophetic tones, mingling sadness and wisdom, praise to God and warning to man.
It was not before time.