Unsightly but Brief

At our backyard bird feeders are a male and female cardinal that show the effects of feather mites. Both have none of the normal plumage of their species on the top of their heads, and the sun has turned the exposed skin black. Since the mites are not deadly, both birds will soon recover, but their physical appearance lacks for the moment. If the birds were able to clean their heads and necks the feather mite would not be an issue; however, unable to reach their heads for grooming, they suffer the infestation of feather mites and its mark on their beauty.

Now, unlike those unfortunate cardinals and other birds like the blue jay who probably be attacked by feather mites, we humans can reach our heads. However, I am not thinking of our myriad ways (and expense) of grooming them. We shampoo, rinse, cut, curl, tint, dye, tease, and so forth our head hair, then we spend millions on creams, foundations, eye shadow, and other creations to make us more beautiful. As a nation we spend much money and time to appear differently than we are. We even use contact lenses to change our eye color to match different dress outfits. However, we mostly ignore the inside of our heads, our brains.

The morning television show, Today, often plays in our house each day. Recently on two occasions I saw and heard something that surprised me. I was so taken aback that I stopped on my way to ride the stationary bike when I saw a young couple being interviewed. Sadly, their precious, young toddler had wandered out of a room and minutes later, her frantic mother found her floating facedown in the neighbor’s pool. Nothing revived her. The child’s father, an Olympian, sat next to his wife, holding her hand, allowing her to talk and cry. The NBC interviewer stated more than once how good it was that this couple was willing to come forward to share their story in hopes that it would prevent another such incident from happening. It won’t because the entire episode and others like it are, while well intended perhaps, just emotional venting that belongs elsewhere. The child’s drowning is all the words we so lightly use—sad, unfortunate, tough, preventable, but all of that is not worthy of major television time, unless we want to wallow as a nation of viewers.  Watching the young mother cry, sob, speak of her other two children will not prevent one other child from drowning in a backyard pool. But, it’s good ratings and cheap entertainment. Even the interviewer got into it with her downturned lips to express grief and “I know” sadness.

Coming in later from my ride, I saw the other hostess of the show walking through the screaming crowd of admirers. Held back by a rope, the people yelled and held up signs with names of hometowns and even family names. The hostess walked along, chatting, glad-handing, and someone in the crowd yelled, “We love you.” She immediately responded, “I love you, too.”

Here we have it, we “love” our television personalities, and, best of all, they love us. What a great and superficial world we have created. Love and loved by strangers.

Unlike the poor cardinals at our feeders, we are able to reach our heads to groom, which we seem to do very well. Yet, I wish we were more of a reading nation of serious and not-so serious literature. I wish we were better writers so that we would communicate by written words not in a scramble of the Internet like Twitter. I wish we knew and valued our individual and collective histories. I wish. And, if we don’t curb such showings as mentioned earlier and begin grooming the inside of our heads, we will pay the price for a mediocrity that, unlike the feather mites, will last a long time.


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