Once upon a time there was an old farmer. As he awoke early one morning to begin his rounds, he felt his bones creak and his joints pop, the pain familiar to him as he ignored it. The Farmer began his morning routine, and shortly took his cup of coffee out onto the porch to watch the sunrise. The Farmer looked out at the landscape, the land his family had held for generations. This year had been difficult, they were poisoning the water and the air, many of his crops were struggling, or were fighting mold. The weather had been far too rainy, and then the heat and humidity was baking his plants when the sun did come out. “I’d better not see that blasted Sheriff today.” The Farmer thought to himself. A Homeowners Association was trying to steal his home and land with fraudulent claims. The Sheriff was the brother of the President of this HOA, and was backing up the attempted theft by way of intimidation.
The Farmer thought of what the Sheriff had said when confronted with the fact that he was enforcing illegal foreclosures throughout the County, and other frauds: “I’m three years away from retirement, and I’m going to do what the Judge tells me.” The Farmer shook his head, the Sheriff had said this with a crooked grin. As he sipped the coffee and then let out a sigh, a sparrow began chirping incessantly nearby. The Farmer looked, and saw a sparrow perched on a light-fixture, glaring at him. When the little bird noticed the Farmer had seen it, it flew away, to a another light on a porch column further away. The Farmer knew the bird was trying to lure him away from a nest, and he looked down towards the short hedges that bordered his front-porch and saw an incomplete mess of sticks and scavenged fur. The Farmer bent down, and saw that the nest was empty. The Farmer proceeded to destroy the nest, scattering it to the wind, much to the protests of the Sparrow.
The next day, the Farmer was once again on his porch, watching the sunrise, drinking his coffee. The Farmer thought to himself, “what are we supposed to do when the system itself is manned by criminals?” Just then, the Sparrow began chirping angrily at him again, and once again it tried to lure him away from the area. The Farmer looked and found the new, unfinished nest in a different bush, close to the ground. Once again, the Farmer destroyed the nest, taking the remains and scattering them on the lawn and around the hemlock tree nearby. The Sparrow dive bombed his hat, and then flew off chirping. The Farmer went about his day.
The next day, the Farmer stood on his porch, watching the sunrise, drinking his coffee. The Farmer looked over to the hemlock tree nearby, and saw a sparrow building a next high in the branches, away from the ground, and smiled, because he knew the eggs would be safer now.
Were you irritated by the Farmers actions? Did you believe he was simply bullying a weaker creature, stealing its home, like how the local Sheriff was abusing his alleged authority? But what was the intention of the Farmer? Sometimes we jump to conclusions based on limited data and our own biases and perceptions, what we may have been trained to do, without knowing the entire story. We cannot read minds. Sometimes people are going through fights and trials we know nothing about, but even when it feels like they are drowning in darkness they still try to do good, even if it is not in a way quickly understood by others. Power and authority are not the same thing. One may have power but no authority to exercise it, and one may have authority, but no power to enforce it. The Sheriff in this story had power, but not authority, and was using their power for enrichment and oppression. The Farmer exercised power over the Sparrow for it’s benefit, having God given authority over the creation.
-Without Prejudice, T. Jas. J. AKA: The Mad Mainer