Shall We Listen to the Mockingbird?


young-mockingbird-in-the-bay-treeWhen I first got to North Carolina, I was invited to dinner at a colleague’s home.  As we sat on her tree-lined patio at dusk, the lilting song of a bird rose over our heads.

In New York, I had heard birdsong at daybreak that made my heart soar on innumerable occasions, but I had never heard a bird sing in the evening. But as day became nightfall that June evening, I was enchanted by a song that was extended, with variations like a symphony, light and delicate, winsome and melancholy, so lovely I was moved as I always am by beautiful music.

mockingbird-in-the-hollyThough there was only one bird, it sounded to me as if this was a song evolving into the songs of a number of different birds sung one after the other.

When I asked what bird it was that was singing, the answer was, “It’s a mockingbird.” And from somewhere I  remembered a few lyrics of a song “Listen to the Mockingbird, Listen to the Mockingbird, the Mockingbird is singing”….wasn’t sure of the next words…

Me, being me, I did a little research to find out that a mockingbird can have a repertoire of over 200 songs, invented and copied from other birds, and that lone males sing the longest and most complex songs.

cardinal-copyWhen Doug moved here, and I got the feeders up, first came sparrows, then warblers, finches, and cardinals, finally mourning doves arrived to peck the ground at the larger sunflower seeds from the feed mix dropped to them by the littler birds.  All, got their turn, all got along, all had their notes and music. And at last, a mockingbird arrived. I was thrilled.

There was the evolving extended song, the pert tail, the flashes of white on the wing.  The mockingbird seemed to listen to my husband whistling and repeated his notes. mockingbird-copyAs soon as Doug came out on the porch, this mockingbird would arrive, flying into one of the nearby trees.  Doug would whistle and the mockingbird reply…a little like dueling, first one and then the other, Doug mimicking the bird, the bird “mocking” him in imitation.  The grandkids began to call him, “Boppa’s bird.” We loved him.

I had a lot to learn about mockingbirds.

mockingbird2-copyThey are among the bullies in the bird world, aggressively territorial.  Gradually, I noticed that when the mockingbird was near, he was always alone. As I watched him, he stayed in the tree nearby, but didn’t go to the feeders. Looking up more information, I learned seeds were not in his diet, and got a suet feeder for him. But when he was around, I finally realized the other birds remained hidden, only chirping a bit from the bushes.

But worse than the other birds just avoiding him, to my chagrin, I saw that if they did try to come to the feeders, and he was anywhere nearby, he would violently drive them off.  Though the other birds wouldn’t eat the bugs, grubs and beetles or fruits favored by mockingbirds, and thus were not competition to his survival, he attacked. Swooping and whirling, he would dive into them, head first, bill extended, over and over until they retreated.

I realized one Mockingbird song was “Mine, mine, mine, get away, get away.”

cardinal-at-the-feeder-copyThe mockingbird chased the other birds,  unwilling to share…anything, even access to food he had no interest in. He wanted the whole habitat all to himself. It was all about him. And my nesting pairs of littler birds, who had come and made their homes in my yard, were kept from the feeders though they posed no risk, simply seeking to feed themselves and their babies.

Initially, it seemed the mockingbird was  powerful. He had dominance and control. He even attracted a mate. Finally, however, the littler birds stood up for themselves, joining together, fighting back, and the mockingbird left, taking his song and his mate with him.

They haven’t been in my yard these last few years…and the other birds have flourished.

aggression-bully-copyNow, thus far, this may seem just a tale of life in my garden…but it came to mind when I read last week’s post by a friend, entitled “Bullies”.  She related stories from her days teaching and as a principal about bullies in her school….and went on to make it an analogy to the current election, having not posted about politics before.  Link to Clare’s post, Bullies

Like her, I had never before specifically addressed individual candidates. But like Clare, I now feel compelled to speak in the face of the horrifying nature of this election. I am not willing to let a bully win, even if all I have to fight him with are my words.

trump-copyDonald Trump is a Mockingbird. He sings varied songs calling out to the scared, to the struggling white, formerly middle class, men in manufacturing and mining, some of his songs mock women, some mock Muslims, the handicapped, Mexicans, immigrants, the communities and neighborhoods where there are a preponderance of African-Americans, recently he mocked Clinton’s stumbling when she was sick, some of his songs resonate with the actively racist.  He sees himself sitting at the edge of night, singing a song of a “great” past, and telling us he is our only possible savior. It is all about him.

trump-strike-sign-copyLike the Mockingbird, he wants to drive out others from “his” territory, keep out the “different,” remove illegal immigrants, keep out refugees, build walls. At one point, he kept African-Americans from renting in his buildings. He has “used” small businesses to feather his nest without paying them, gone bankrupt multiple times thus not paying his debts, hurting his sub-contractors, cheating his employees, and accruing that failure to his own benefit by paying no taxes at all to support the country, or its military, while criticizing how poorly our president has managed things.

He sings songs that are not even really his own, that he thinks people want to hear, “Keep jobs in America, Make companies bring back jobs, Make things in America” while his company makes shirts and ties in Asia and Central America.

truth-lie-copyDonald Trump’s songs are alluring, and he is more than willing to change them…pretend he never sang the notes we all heard him sing. He lies. Not little white lies, but the big profound deceptive hurtful kind that can destroy individuals and undermine a nation. Like a mockingbird, he loves to attack others swooping in on them, “twittering” into the night.

 

think-before-you-voteSo little birds, it’s time to unite. We can’t sit safe on the edges, we can’t just stay in our nests, or let this mockingbird win. We have to defend our country and ourselves, and we have to call out this bird, this candidate, this charlatan for what he is.

We have to talk about this and we have to vote…and though I fear the song may linger, we must act and call out to our neighbors who are mesmerized by Trump, “Don’t listen to the mockingbird.”  The actual end to the line from the Mockingbird song that I couldn’t remember is “The mockingbird is singing o’er her grave.” There’s meaning there.

So, together let us chirp and tweet and sing, write and speak up to encourage others to vote and to join their voices to ours in a morning song, a song of inclusion, a welcoming song, a song of joy.

That is what really makes America strong, and it’s why America has always been great.

 

 

 

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About joanneeddy

Writer living in North Carolina. Originally from upstate New York. I love my family, my community, and my friends, and embrace 'living deliberately' in the world, trying to make a difference. I have written an as yet unpublished book, The Call, an epic fantasy with historical fiction and folklore elements. My blog is for other writers, for those who love a good read, and for all who, like me, are looking to find and live their call.
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24 Responses to Shall We Listen to the Mockingbird?

  1. Allene Renz says:

    So true!!! He wants us all to be like him. Should we all have 3 marriages? Be as Vulgar as he is? Want to exclude people of Other countries? Not know why we need To support NATO? The list is a long one.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks, Jo. Wise words, beautifully expressed. I intend to continue the conversations I’ve been having with fellow concerned bloggers from around the world in my next post. I never thought I would be admitting this, but I can’t think of a better use for social media right now than to gather our voices together to show there are saner souls working to stop the bully-onslaught we have been experiencing of late. 🌹 Clare

    Liked by 1 person

    • joanneeddy says:

      Good for you. I don’t know how many will click on the link, or think reading my blog

      Liked by 1 person

    • joanneeddy says:

      I swear my texting finger is broken! I meant my post was long enough – but the more I thought about the analogy the closer to the truth about Trump it seemed.

      Liked by 1 person

      • We see him clearly for what he is by his own words and actions, not how he has been portrayed by a skewed press. The bully analogies are so apropos for the likes of him.

        Liked by 1 person

      • joanneeddy says:

        Kaine was right to hammer on Trump’s statements but Pence avoided or denied he said them, and wasn’t called on that!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Obviously Pence was instructed to stay as far away as he could from being drawn into any conversation about how he could possibly support the buffoon’s abhorrent behavior and statements. But Kaine knew that he had to try to get some reaction from Pense on this and so was incredibly persistent. Charley likened him to a bulldog. I was so uncomfortable with the interruptions and the talking over each other, that I left the room so Charley did not have to listen to my shouts at the moderator to get some control. I felt the end of the debate was the best and showed both of them to be much better men than the male presidential candidate in this race. I wonder what Pense’s wife’s take on all of this is. She certainly doesn’t strike me as a woman the buffoon would want in his inner circle of Stepford women. And if she has a brain in her head, surely she must realize this?

        Liked by 1 person

      • joanneeddy says:

        You and I do tend to react similarly…though I didn’t leave. I think Doug tunes out my outbursts! I think the over-anxious/over-aggressive interruptions didn’t come off well, and Pence didn’t take much bait. I was underwhelmed by the moderator, but by the end it was better and each seemed more respectful. I’m afraid by not biting, by lying, and looking calmer than Kaine (and Trump) Pence did pretty well.(sort of like Hillary and Trump where he interrupted and she stayed focused and forceful, it looks stronger, I think). Pence handled the religious question deftly but omitted trying to totally defund Planned Parenthood, and just how rigid his pro-Life stance is. He talked about “Partial Birth” Abortions, but he is against any and all abortions. He is pretty rigid in his fundamental Evangelical conservatism, so I would guess he is pretty Male Dominant at home. I don’t know much about his wife…but there are women who take that biblical view of male control as “the rule of God.” I thought the religious question was Kaine’s strongest. But here’s my conspiracy theory questions: “What if Pence thinks Donald can’t win? What if for him it’s about looking presidential (and by contrast to Trump he sure does) and about getting a leg up over the Cruz camp for the 2020 election? He wasn’t even in the mix of candidates this year, but may come out on top in 2020. …so just maybe his wife is merely waiting for the “heathen” adulterer to go down in flames. And if he doesn’t, her husband is vice-president. That’s a pretty big win. I guess I just have a skeptical brain. (Oh,I read that there are those in the Trump camp who leaked that the Donald wasn’t happy with how good Pence looked.)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well, I guess Pense may get his pink slip sooner than expected. He surely would not have made it through four years with the buffoon. Who could? Just think about how many times the Cabinet members would change. My guess is weekly unless he puts the 3 kids in. They’ll keep their jobs. They know how to play his game and keep their income flowing in. – I meant to tell you that I have a theory about how the tax returns got to the NY paper. I really believe Marla leaked them out and possibly used Tiffany to mail them from Trump Tower. (That is where it was postmarked) Now that would be true revenge from a woman scorned. And there is the possibility of more to come! Now, this I could really get into!

        Liked by 1 person

      • joanneeddy says:

        Ooo, I just thought…here’s an irony: the President can’t hire the Vice President!

        Liked by 1 person

    • joanneeddy says:

      I have continued to read the comments on your blog and found many powerful. I keep trying to get people to see the choice clearly and that a protest vote is a vote for Trump.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. We are in such a pickle. I watched the debate of the wanna-be Vice Presidents last night and I could hardly stand it. Kain and Pence, just thinking one of them might be President one day hurts.

    As for Trump, there is a pretty good chance he will win. There are too many like-minded people here in the U.S. Angry voters, who feel they have been left out, uneducated white people, who fall for slogans and false promises.

    Too many will sit this election out, too many will cast a protest vote for a 3rd party candidate.

    I am not thrilled that I will have to vote for Clinton myself…but know I have to. There is too much at stake, most of all the supreme court.
    As for Trump being a Mockingbird, that’s a good one!

    Liked by 1 person

    • joanneeddy says:

      We really are in a fix, and I agree that there is a much bigger risk of his election for all the reasons you cited than seem to be being considered. That’s why I had to post this. It may only be “writer’s words” but all I have to fight with. We have to vote and try to get other like minded people to, and though unlikely try to change minds, especially of the sit it out or protest voters. Thanks for reading…I know it was long!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Karuna says:

    Thanks so much for this post. I love the way you led up to your main message. And I totally agree with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Clive says:

    Great post, Jo. I didn’t see the link coming, but it made total sense when you made it. I read and commented on Clare’s post too, and some of Bridget’s. From a UK perspective I view the possibility of Trump as President utterly abhorrent. Your description of him is very accurate, and it is incredible that so many people seem to be prepared to ignore his history. Beware, it really could happen: our protest vote produced a result that I suspect a minority wanted, and it is leading us along a path that is becoming ever more negative. I hope the US avoids that mistake.

    Liked by 1 person

    • joanneeddy says:

      Clive, that is precisely what scares me. I worry that a protest vote for one of the alternative parties will give him the win or a “pox on both your houses” refusal to vote will. I think he himself is just a reactive choice, an I’m sick of the same old establishment poke in the eye without, as you said it, considering the negative consequences. I mention Brexit all the time.

      Sometimes when she’s up in the polls it scares me as I think that it encourages a false sense of safety that a protest vote won’t hurt, and his more rabid supporters will carry the day. I had been hammering away on Facebook but Clare’s excellent post kept echoing in my thoughts that I couldn’t and shouldn’t keep by blog apolitical and soon the mockingbird analogy hit me. I hope it will sneak up on the reader, get past defensiveness for his supporters if they read it, and make the case strongly. I still am stunned at some Christian friends who look past the evil he spews and how amoral he is and plan to vote for him. He as president terrifies me. i hope my little post could just reach one of them and change their mind.

      Meanwhile, thanks for coming and reading it, Clive. I worry for you,too, with Brexit looming. Jo

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Clive says:

    You’ve hit the nail firmly on the head: people want a change from the norm without thinking what they are getting into, until it is too late. The Brexit vote has unleashed levels of abuse and racism that have come as a surprise to many. But they aren’t really that surprising when you look at politicians like Nigel Farage and the despicable bunch of thugs and clowns in his UKIP party – as yesterday’s little outburst demonstrated only too well. And Trump has used him to support and validate his own campaign. Unbelievable! I just hope you get a better result.

    It is interesting to see so many non-political bloggers feeling that they have to write about this. That in itself shows how dangerous the situation is becoming. I hope you continue to draw attention to this and maybe some of your friends will see sense!

    Liked by 1 person

    • joanneeddy says:

      The truth is most of my close friends feel as I do, but I worked in a Christian organization (The Salvation Army), including for a while being a director of the family shelter, so connected with many in the Catholic Worker movement. I am a believer, but liberal and certainly not fundamentalist, but many of those I worked alongside were very conservative. I keep trying to reach them. The last Major I worked for before coming to NC is one person I keep trying to reach. His fall back argument for acceptance of Trump is the Supreme Court and the fact the next president will nominate a judge to replace Scalia, a conservative, who died. That choice will tip the current 4 liberal 4 conservative justices balance. But I am still trying! I really am a never give up kind of person once I’ve got my teeth into a thing (Always loved Churchill’s line about the bulldog in describing the British as my husband is Scotch English, and one of the few people who can “out stubborn” me!) Yet, I will keep hammering on. Clare told me she plans to as well.

      Liked by 1 person

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