The dawn’s humid air pressed down on all living beings; its vice-like grip intensifying in the
heat of the rising sun this morning. With dew points in the seventies, the ‘dry’ heat of the southwestern deserts fades into mythology. Irrespective of the weather, I insist on witnessing each rising sun so at 0500 hours I hauled my body and a mug of coffee to the yard. The morning ritual at the hummingbird feeder reminds me of a Keystone Cops slapstick comedy filmed with a flickering 8-mm camera or a miniature WWII era dogfight; hummingbirds make me laugh out loud. No matter the number of feeding stations, the battles for control proceed unabated. Blackchins, Broadbills, Anas, Costas, Lucifers, and Rufus are just a few of the hummers we support along the north-south migration route between Canada and Mexico.
While calculating the number of decades we’ve been feeding these wee, feisty, fighting fools, I wonder if they are all related to the original individuals who tentatively showed up when we began our journey here in the southwest about thirty five years ago. A little over twenty years ago the Nature Conservancy purchased more than 500,000 acres of land adjoining our puny holdings. The Nature Conservancy used donated funds from the American people to procure the land then sold the land to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that paid for it with funds received from American taxpayers. The bonus was that the Nature Conservancy made a tidy profit. In short, the American taxpayer paid twice for the same hunk of ground.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tore down the ranches, eliminated the stock tanks, and, in general, reduced the life-giving surface water available all critters. The hummingbirds, which for generations had migrated over this land, suddenly were without watering holes and the oases that grew up around them. Migrating hummingbirds found themselves dependent on humans that hung feeders in trees. No longer a treat, the humans’ faux flower nectar became a way of life. Does this sound familiar?
Historically, the story of the U.S. citizens’ metamorphosis from fiercely independent individualists to prize-winning, pet cash cows began shortly after the formation of the country. Until the New Deal in the 1930s, however, it was a pitched battle. Those who
longed for liberty, accountability and independence vigorously fought those who felt the masses were somehow inferior beings that, not understanding the basics of life, required guidance. The Great Depression handed the advantage to the progressives. The people needed saving whether they wanted it or not. The Supreme Court was realigned to support the executive branch with a reinterpreted ‘living’ Constitution and the legislation began to flow. At this point let us not forget to include the crony capitalists. They vied, wielding donations and influence, for the lucrative jobs of milking, feeding, cleaning up after, and slaughtering the pet cash cows.
The progressives’ New Deal melted into fear induced by the escalating Cold War (1947-1991), which was re-energized by the surreal events that unfolded after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001. So many generations have passed that the citizens have become accustomed to the new way of living. History, economics, ethics, and the humanities were dropped from the education system. The context of the American dream was lost. Victims were identified, raised up, and placed on pedestals for victimhood worship. Hispanics, blacks, poor, addicted, teased/bullied, and, the latest, Muslims were taught to blame rather than strive. Modeling on the Cold War, the federal government invented a new definition for diversity and declared wars on hunger, poverty and drugs. Trillions were and are being spent on these federal rice bowls with little gain. Meanwhile, the pet cash cows mill quietly and without complaint in the feed lots. They receive their grooming, watering, food and safety with gratitude as they wait for the cattle trucks to take the next batch to slaughter for the good of the herd.
Me, I love the hummingbirds. These are the people who cast off the cloaks that label them. Pride and exhilaration surge through my veins as they raise their voices and express their self-taught philosophies in a rising chorus for liberty. Brightly colored bits of beauty in motion, they course across the fields of life in search of their own flowers. Their voices are diverse but their music rings through the spheres of our universe. These hummingbirds argue and battle with agility and skill but, in the end, they strive for the same objectives; liberty, life, and property. Their song, demanding respect for the law that protects these natural rights, is not discordant; it is not a cacophony. It is a symphony of hope.
To many, the trend is leading inevitably to the next ‘revolution’ or complete turn. The first revolution turned the world. It was the declaration that man, by virtue of being a homo sapien, was born with the natural right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (the right to use his faculties to produce products from the resources at hand). No longer, said the founding brothers, was there a ‘better’ class of person that could rule the sub-human masses fit only to serve. The founding brothers felt that governments did well when laws protected these natural rights and did poorly when they did not. As a result of the first turn, the U.S. sprang from nothing to lead the world in less than 200 years.
The next turn reinstates a ruling class that believes it is an evolutionary step above mere mortals. This superior class of human knows best and regulates it undaunted by its history of failure. The superior ruling class know what you should eat, how you should use your land, how to raise and educate your children, what supplements you should take, and with whom and how you should be communicating. Granted, the assault is strong and from many directions but all is not lost.
The U.S. has been to the brink of self-destruction before. Great leaders rose before the onslaught and turned the tide. Were the great tide-turners unique, one-off leaders or were they the tip of a spear backed by the lashings and a strong cane of ideas generated by a multitude raising a hue and cry? The longer I live and learn, the more evidence I find that great leaders rise because of their unique talent to navigate political waters. These are the gifted statesmen: Franklin, Washington, Lincoln, Churchill, and Gandhi to name a few. The navigation aids and motive power for their leadership, however, came from the thinkers, doers, and warriors that elevated the need, generated the ideas, and provided the maps to avoid the shoals. The first turn gave the world its greatest country. There is much left to accomplish and the time for a second turn has not yet arrived.
 University of Arizona; Nature Conservancy in Arizona records, 1884-1999; Collection Number: MS 408; http://www.azarchivesonline.org/xtf/view?docId=ead/uoa/UAMS408.xml&doc.view=print;chunk.id=0