Swallows, roosters, and “Darth Becky”

Dear President Trump

Sunday we took the dogs to the Union Bay Natural Area on Lake Washington. About a quarter mile into the walk one of our dogs apparently got too close to a swallow’s nest because suddenly two swallows came at me, screaming and darting around my head. I was furthest away from where the nest must have been, but they were intent on scaring me off. They succeeded. It was awful. Laura had to shoo them away from me. As we quickly moved away I was puzzling over why they singled me out and it dawned on me that I probably look most like a bald eagle to them with my bright white hair. Or maybe a peregrine falcon. Both are predators living in the Natural Area and I’m sure they routinely snatch up baby birds and rodents. The adult swallows were clearly trying to protect their home and their babies from danger even if they were mistaken in their alarm and in their target.

Contrast the understandable behavior of the swallow parents with that of the woman in Running Springs, CA who was caught on video irrationally attacking Estebán Guzman while he was helping his mother on a landscape clean-up job. The woman, who’s been dubbed “Darth Becky,” got in his face with her middle finger and called him a rapist and an animal and threw in “drug dealer” for good measure, noting “Even the president of the United States says you’re a rapist.” Being gullible and wanting an excuse to express racist animus is completely on her, but you are knowingly exploiting and exacerbating these weaknesses in people.

Nearly a year ago I found this passage by Joyce Carol Oates and I’ve been saving it for the right day and it is today: “Why does Mr. Rooster hate me? And my grandmother told me in her heavily accented English: “Don’t be silly. The rooster doesn’t hate you, he is just a rooster. Always you should know, that is what roosters do.” My grandmother lacked the knowledge to have explained, “The rooster is hard-wired to blindly attack, it is his instinct.” She could not have said (though she meant), “To allow us to behave other than instinctively, like a brute creature — that is the purpose of education, of morality, of civilization.”

May we be safe from leaders who prefer to cultivate brute creatures.
May we be happy to resist the easy appeal of acting on our base instincts.
May we protect our health through education, morality, and compassion.
May we make peace with the reality of the Darth Beckys and look for ways to bring them back to the light.

Tracy Simpson

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