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The Bird


Ismail Ahmad

Staff Writer

The fast-paced, fabricated, and polarized political landscape of today makes it difficult to adequately assess our own political position. As we sift through the banter and jargon, often a simple story is all we need to elucidate the subtleties of our own moral compass. The following is a simple, yet raw and true story that confronts the grey zone between what is right and what is easy in an attempt to help us isolate and classify our political stances.

A small group of young men gather for their early morning run. The lines between dreams and reality are blurred with the morning fog. They are ready to embark on a new adventure when they spot a small bird lying on the ground nearby. There was something wrong with this bird.

As they moved closer, a rush of understanding ran through them. The bird was half crushed, with one of its wings outstretched and a body that was halfway crushed. But the bird lay there, still alive.

At first, there was sympathy for the dying bird, a heartfelt sorrow for the little creature. Then, there was a feeling of duty and to help the bird and end its pain, which was followed by a stark reality.

Though the sun still shined and the air still remained crisp, the beautifully cool breeze turned frigid. The promising anticipation for their new day turned bleak. At once, the rising spirits, the climbing atmosphere, the limitless freedoms of a boundless new day lay flat, befuddled. Stopped short. A small, half-lifeless bird lay helpless. And with it laid a decision that separated present from the future.

As the young men huddled around the bird, an uneasiness set in. The bird lay in misery, but now all it could do was wait. Resting now on the shoulders of the youth was a dilemma. Now the bird’s life lay in their hands. But the clock ticked, not for the bird, but for the men.

“We have to kill it.”

A heaviness seeped into their hearts and a silence overtook them. Who would kill it? With what and how? There was nothing that could desensitize the inconvenient realities. As moments passed by, a variety of possibilities ebbed secretly in and out of their thoughts. Perhaps killing the bird is not the right thing to do. Maybe nature should take its course. After all, they could not haste this decision and ignore their sentiments, for perhaps their hesitation revealed the truth. A standstill. Indecision and negligence threatened to poison the fresh air. A subtle fear crept in, and it was the quietness and delicate manner that it sept in that made it terrifying.

Perhaps, we’ll do nothing…”

The bird moved.

A short broken flitter of one-winged determination. A confused attempt to fly once more. A last-ditch effort to escape the painful shackles of a death that refuses to take hold. But it lay. Broken. Helpless. Pleading.

“Enough.”

One kid stepped up. Perhaps an unlikely one from the group. Nonetheless, weights were released from those around him.

“Someone has to do it.”

He put a woodchip on the bird’s head, took a deep breath, and crushed. Echoing was the humbling cringe from the surrounding young men, but it was done. Never came the solace of a good deed, nor the tension of a bad. Only the empowering reassurance of having made a decision.