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Hawk feathers, Gump and empire

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The new 800 page book, by Caroline Elkins, Legacy Of Violence: A History Of The British Empire, explores how "colonial officials from India to Malaya to South Africa hid evidence of their violent practices while building the largest empire in human history".

One thing she said in the interview I was listening to on NPR (Fresh Air), just as I was about to park and go into Home Depot, was that, before Britain colonized India, India's economy represented 25% of global GNP. When they exited India, it had shrunk to 3 - 5% of global GNP. (I think that's right.) (Made me want to throw out [compost] my English breakfast tea.)

At the end of the interview the interviewer asked (my paraphrase), how does the United States compare to this picture of Empire (as bloodsucker) of sovereign vitality. Well, of course we did the same thing. We exploited the resources of a continent and, we may not call the countries we exploit "colonies", but we are a declining, bloodsucking empire (my paraphrase). And now we are poor in every way that counts.

Sometimes I wake up feeling heavy and demoralized. That's not a good way to start the day. But this morning when I sat down with my coffee there was a small hawk feather on the table where my coffee and laptop go. I put it there last night on purpose so I would find it. I'll explain:

When I went on my walk yesterday I circled through the orchard heading for a favorite old white pine where I often sit. That feather was waiting for me right where I always stand or sit when I visit this pine, which I consider to be a friend and often share my secrets with. The feather is from a Red Tailed hawk who has lived by the orchard for a few years.

What does this feather "mean" to me? I'm going to tell you: It means that I would do well to expand my view, to fly a little higher and look around, maybe not take everything that is going wrong with the world so personally. I know other people who feel too much, or think too much . . . I do both, and it is exhausting.

Is it exhausting being hawk? I'm sure it is. I'm sure she has bad days. Sometimes the crows go after her relentlessly, two big ones, taking turns dive-bombing, sometimes getting a peck in, which might explain her loss of a feather, but, most times I see her, she is gyring high up above it all. That feather lying in the slight bowl-shaped indentation where I sit reminds me of the feather in Forrest Gump; remember? (Google:) Forrest never knows where his life will take him next, but he goes with the flow and he finds happiness at all stops along the way because that is what his mother taught him to do.

I couldn't have said it any better.

You know, in a way, we are all Gumps. It really is up to each of us what we do next.

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(Article changed on Jul 12, 2022 at 9:46 AM EDT)

(Article changed on Jul 12, 2022 at 10:00 AM EDT)

(Article changed on Jul 12, 2022 at 10:36 AM EDT)

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Gary Lindorff is a poet, writer, blogger and author of several nonfiction books, a collection of poetry, "Children to the Mountain" and a memoir, "Finding Myself in Time: Facing the Music" Over the last few years he has begun calling (more...)

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