I had to kill a rooster about an hour ago. He’d been attacking people, including me. We all agreed that, while he was a prize-winning-beautiful bird, we had too many roosters and this taloned terrorist had to go. So I finished my workday, and put on some gloves and safety glasses. My youngest son Hark locked the dogs inside to avoid undue excitement (you don’t want your dogs to develop a taste for your chickens), and he also put on gloves and safety glasses.
Yeah, the rooster was mean and could jump high. His spurs are sharp and his beak drew blood too. A few weeks ago, Hark accidentally blinded the rooster’s right eye while fighting him off, but that only made the rooster even more fearful and aggressive.
I think he knew what was coming, as Hark and I started across the field toward the free-ranging flock. Maybe the saddest part for me was when he ran behind his favorite hen; the one whose back he’d plucked completely bare. The cocky bully turned chicken in his final moments, and my heart sank. I almost called the whole thing off. Maybe I should have.
I don’t know.
Anyway, while my son and I both chased him down, I got the short straw as the one able to grab the rooster first. I scooped up the squawking chainsaw of beak, feathers and two-inch spurs, and swiftly broke his neck.
I suppose it was as quick a death as possible, but man, I hated doing that. It’s not as easy as it looks in movies; but worse, I took a life that was fighting for life. He wanted to live, and I killed him.
Since moving to the farm, I’ve had to kill many animals, for many perfectly understandable reasons, but I’ve never gotten used to it. My hands shake and my spirit is heavy for a long time after strangling, shooting or twisting the life out of even the most vicious creature. If anything, it’s getting harder every time.
Do not take me for a saint. When I was very young, I had little trouble extinguishing the life of frogs, squirrels, or whatever else was on the wrong end of my shoe, slingshot, bow or gun.
But a more mature perspective has revealed to me the preciousness of life, and the horror of stealing life. I don’t kill from childish fear or flippancy. While I don’t at all begrudge hunters their sport, killing is never a sport to me. It’s just something that sometimes has to be done in the real world.
Yes, this is about politics. Damn it all, this is most definitely about politics.
What is politics, after all, but the delegation of reality to somebody else? Politics is about taking somebody else’s money for our convenience and comforts. It’s about risking somebody else’s life for our sense of security. It’s about blaming somebody else for our choices and making somebody else pay for our mistakes. Mostly, it seems these days, it’s about getting other people to do your violence for you.
Why else would we put up with it?
We citizens are supposed to take account for our own violence/killing…personally. We are still (the laws of the land haven’t been altered) to be citizen soldiers, trained in the use and accountability of deadly force. We are to consider what it means to look into another person’s eyes before snuffing out all his or her opportunities. We are to think long and hard before entering another person’s nation to serve some political whimsey. We are, in point of fact and fact of the point, to be responsible adults who treat others as we’d like to be treated.
It’s by no accident that we’ve laid most of the personal risks of war upon our young and ill-informed. We know the human brain’s ability to assess risk and benefit is undeveloped and fragile in today’s soldiering age-range of teens to thirty. It’s too easy to whip up the young into a Hatfield v McCoy, or Colts versus Bears tribalism. They are too brave, too fearless, too free of adult restraint, to be the antiviolent force that freedom requires.
It’s too easy for the fearful, selfish, greedy and foolish among us to direct these young bucks to do our evil for us in the name of patriotic duty.
Maybe this is a long way to come to my core point, but I didn’t want to just come out and directly state that I abhor that “…thank a soldier” mentality.
I have great respect for soldiers. I’ve seen the service to great things for people who serve. I’ve met very few rotten soldiers and plenty whom I admire. Pretty much everybody in my family forever has been in the military at some point; some for their whole careers. My dad was a decorated war pilot and POW.
But exactly who is it that ever takes away liberty? Who is able to oppress, enslave and steal on a large scale? Was it Stalin or Mao themselves who killed so many millions of their own citizens?
…Or did they have professional help?
Isn’t it obvious from even the most brief examination of humanity’s historical record that the permanent, professional standing armies that our founders warned us against are still our greatest threat?
Yes, it’s a bloody horrible thing to take a life with your own hands. We should hate it. We should avoid it as though it’s a stain upon our soul. It is a taste of hell.
But it is a far worse, insane and wicked thing to delegate our killing to others and act as though it is some hallmark of civility.
Horrible, evil things happen. Horrible, evil things must be opposed; sometimes by force. Deadly force is very rarely necessary, but it does happen that it is necessary to kill.
But shouldn’t we bring that force into the light and make it both accountable, and personal?
Yes, taking life is ugly. It is hellish horrid. We really should own up to that. We should personally weigh that evil against the comforts we claim from it.
It is a shame that’d make our founders shudder that we have turned this abhorrent thing into a career for so many, for so long.