Have you ever watched a bird in a cage just sitting
on its perch without a care in the world? Have you ever wondered
how the poor thing could stand being “trapped” in
its personal prison for its entire live?
I have. I know that if I were that little bird I would do
everything in my power to get out of that cage and fly
off into the vast
and free outdoors.
Can you imagine a four-inch long parakeet lurking in the
corner of its cage just waiting for an opportune moment
to make a “mad
dash” for the open cage door …
Only to fly into a shut window?
Or through the open window into the wild blue yonder only
to be pounced upon by a hungry cat?
What I learned about caged birds born and raised in
captivity, possibly handraised by an avid avian enthusiast,
their cages are their homes, their security—their sanctuary.
They do not know anything else except their cages and their
ways of life.
In a sense, they are similar to the Cubans under
Fidel Castro or the Iraqi people under Saddam Hussein—only without
the torture and the oppression, of course.
This brings to mind one of my first experiences
with “perspective” many
years ago. I was a relatively young man in the Navy stationed
in San Diego. When Naval ships are moored next to a pier, a
spotlight is always positioned to illuminate the egress to
the ship and
invariably, the light shines on the surface of the water between
the ship and the pier.
After passing to and from ships some 147,286
times, I finally took notice of the life and
every night. Swimming at the surface of the
water, in a seemingly futile
attempt to stay alive, were dozens of small
fish hastily darting back and forth in a panicked
frenzy. It appeared
that the light
provided a small amount of protection for the
little fish in that the larger fish shied away
But every once in a while a daring larger fish
would gather the courage and the gumption
to streak to
the surface in
to prey upon the terrorized smaller fish.
I guess hunger and good seafood can overcome
many fears. And this happened every night
next to every
Naval ship presumably
around the world. These little fishes lived
in perpetual fear until they grew up—if
they grew up—to be large
enough to terrorize smaller fish.
What a life! And I noticed that none of
the little fish ever combined forces
fish to fight
terror facing them every night. They
all seemed resigned to whatever
fate awaited them and, more notably,
they seem unconcerned about the fate of the
fish around them.
They were only
concerned about themselves. “Please the bigger fish first,
and maybe you won’t be hungry enough to eat me too.”
On the other end of the spectrum, just
a few years ago, I was doing some work
again “perspective” slapped
me across the face. I noticed hundreds of little fish swimming
around without a care in the world. They would “hang out” in
little groups, peck at algae and essentially do nothing all
I thought to myself, “How boring! I would never want to
live life like that. No television, no restaurants,no school...oops,
maybe schools, but...no entertainment, no sports, nothing. But
at least they weren’t being EATEN!”
Then it hit me. All the food they
could possibly desire, companionship,
and no predators.
This little stream was
almost like fishy heaven to them.
Maybe they were good fishies in
this was their
A few weeks later, I returned to
the stream only to find out that
had caused the stream to flood
and all the little fish
were swept away to whatever doom
I don’t know what it is about fish and birds that fascinate
me so much. Perhaps they are subconscious metaphors for the life
and struggles of “little people oppressed by strong, tyrannical
bullies.” Perhaps they represent an ideology of resignation
and oppression that will eventually be swept away by a more
powerful, evil force.
Perhaps I just like fish.
I know I like seafood.