As you probably know, I normally just post about birds on my blog and on social media.
My aim is to share my love for ravens, crows, and other birds — but I also hope to convey, through my portraits, a feeling of empathy.
I like to think that the feeling of kinship with another species will spill over into similar feeling for our fellow humans, however different their life experiences may be from our own.
Yesterday I stuck my head over the social media parapet to express how sad and worried I feel about some of the things happening as part of the “Freedom Convoy” currently demonstrating in Ottawa.
Many people felt the same, but others disagreed heartily. One commenter felt it was inappropriate for me to express my political views on my Facebook page.
I do generally try to stay away from politics, trying mostly to share the beauty and humour I see in my subject matter, and give people a respite from the more stressful areas of social media.
However, sometimes it feels that just posting pretty pictures of birds is not enough.
I feel a real connection with the birds I photograph and — I hope it goes without saying — with my fellow humans, many of whom have had a very rough time through Covid.
What makes me so sad and worried about the “Freedom Convoy” is that is has gotten very far away from a protest by some truck drivers angered by a new cross-border vaccine mandate affecting their industry. It has been co-opted to a large extent by groups with far more extreme goals and intimidating tactics.
It’s important that we feel empathy for truck drivers who have been working hard to keep us all supplied with the things we need through some very tough times — but it’s equally important to feel the same sympathy for:
- the exhausted and often abused nurses and doctors working through the pandemic
- the front line workers forced to confront angry people as they go about their often low paying service jobs
- the teachers and school staff struggling to provide children with some sense of normalcy and to keep everyone safe at the same time
- people with underlying health conditions (and their caregivers) whose lives are far more affected by Covid than most of us
- those in Ottawa unable to get around, or get sufficient sleep, due to the ongoing disruptions there
- people who have been intimidated by some elements among the demonstrators
- those who feel indirectly, but realistically, threatened by the very presence of swastikas, Confederate flags and Pure Blood t-shirts on blatant display
- journalists who have been trolled in threatening ways on social media and in real life for doing their jobs
The list could go on …
I lead a pretty privileged life, and I’m chilled to the bone by what I’ve seen and read over the last few days, so I can only imagine how those in the direct far-right line of fire must feel seeing these things.
So, I just felt I had to say something yesterday. And again today.
I had to say THIS IS NOT OK, just in case, by my silence, anyone might think I believe that all is well as long as we just gaze at lovely birds.
I believe a huge majority of people in Canada are far from OK with it and that we need to say so, even if it’s not what we usually do.
Respectfully, if you find this post too political I will be fine if you decide you don’t want to follow my blog or posts any more — or you can just stay tuned for more crows and ravens and empathy.
So here we go, resuming normal programming with some pictures of ravens — some in fog and some in sunshine.
I hope you see in them beauty and kinship.
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