Too important for the birds?October 20, 2012
My friend Ernest and I recently met for lunch at a nice restaurant in the D.C. suburbs. It’s a great way to enjoy the food without paying the hefty prices such places charge for dinner. (Despite the recession, the presence of so many lobbyists with hefty expense accounts in town tends to drive the dinner prices at local restaurants well beyond anything normal people would consider reasonable.)
We were just leaving when Ernest pointed up at the beautiful trees that lined the plaza outside the restaurant. Every last one of them was swathed in yards of green plastic net. The folks who hung it were careful to make sure that the plastic wasn’t immediately obvious to the eye, but it was very effective in keeping birds of every size from nesting in the branches. No politician or lobbyist who walked under those trees would have to worry even for an instant that the birds would soil his exquisitely-tailored designer suit.
I recognize that birds sometimes make messes that no one wants to clean up. Still, I can’t help but wonder whether our collective priorities in Washington are quite where they should be. Should any of us be so privileged as to avoid every little inconvenience that Nature has to offer? For that matter, are we really better off if every bird in our nation’s capitol literally has to leave town to find a place to nest? Too many people already describe Washington, D.C. as four square miles surrounded by reality. When everyone else in the U.S. has to deal with life’s little tribulations, why should the denizens of D.C. be exempt?
A dose of healthy if sometimes unpleasant reality might be just what our nation’s leaders need most. As far as I’m concerned, Washington, D.C. should be for the birds.
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