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Return to home for the whooping cranes - and a new perspective for 2014
Return to home, with a new, expanded view on life
What better site for welcoming in the New Year, than that of the whooping cranes coming to Florida for their first time, escorted by human beings disguised as whooping cranes and piloting ultra light aircraft, also disguised as whooping cranes, in order to show them the way.
Young cranes, eight in all, began their aircraft-led migration from White River Marsh State Wildlife Area, Green Lake, Wisconsin on October 2, totaling 1070 miles in all. But rain stopped them in the last day of their flight - so they will appear tomorrow morning, January 2nd, at about 8:00-10:30 for their remaining flight to St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. Thousands of well-wishers will be there. I certainly wish I could go. And there is a webcam which will feature live coverage of the event tomorrow morning.
The birds will have traveled through Wisconsin, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia to reach their wintering habitat in St. Marks, Florida. Whooping cranes are the tallest birds in North America - they can grow up to 5 feet tall. They have black wingtips and a patch of red on their head. At the present time there are about 600 birds in existence, of which 440 birds are in the wild. As Wikipedia states, "after being pushed to the brink of extinction by unregulated hunting and loss of habitat to just 21 wild and two captive Whooping Cranes by 1941, conservation efforts have led to a limited recovery."
The website for Operation Migration follows.
Reflections on 2014 - the year of the bird
It seems to me that there is no better way to welcome the New Year than to think a little about these birds, birds in general, and our own lives. The bird is my symbol for 2014.
When you think about it, there are times when whooping cranes will follow a leader, such as the human beings disguised as whooping cranes. We all follow certain leaders - but it is often not the right person who is chosen to become the leader. The leader when well chosen - such as Nelson Mandela - leads forward, takes chances, and incorporates the views of opposition leaders, as well. What we have seen happening, for some time, is just the opposite approach - both nationally, locally and internationally.
On the national level, we seem to have leaders who can not respect the right of President Obama to lead - and I think that is in part because he is black, and many people, with their own narrow points of view, still cannot agree to see a black person as president of the United States. I wonder how many people have blacks as truly close friends, do things together, and live in the same neighborhoods. When this is not true, this is a terrible mistake, and as a result racism remains the topmost problem in this country.
But right beneath racism is the unwillingness to hear all points of view. An example of this is the building of the new Lawrence recreation center - which, to this day, has never had its contracts and questions fully reviewed and discussed before the public. This should have been done before the City Council even considered taking a vote.
Another issue is the Lawrence Library - the city agreed to vote upon a new library, without ever discussing other alternatives - such as small regional libraries throughout Lawrence.
And there are many more issues which should have been discussed but which were never even brought up for discussion. The elite in this town still controls how the discussion will go, without adequate discussion and input from ALL members of the community.
On an international level, leadership is subservient to the selfishness of the people involved. For example, in South Sudan, I have a good friend from South Sudan who is now a citizen of the United States. He is disgusted at the selfish aspect of both potential leaders in Sudan, who motivate their citizens to vote on tribal lines instead of what is good for the country (and really themselves). He is disgusted at what is happening to this new country - people killed, families attacking each other, and in general setting back the development of this country by many, many years.
Issues such as racism, listening to others, and selfishness are highly important today, and they must be dealt with if this, and other countries, are to survive over the long term.
And there is another subject which is directly related to birds - birds carry very little luggage with them, and often they go great distances every year. We do not even today know what their thoughts are as they fly over hundreds or thousands of miles across countries and oceans. We need to incorporate other countries and their views of life into the United States, instead of having our often very provincial viewpoint. The Journal-World is no exception to this - there is very little reference to other countries, and often other states, in its pages and opinion. Certainly there is almost no input for citizen journalists.
There are always new adventures in life
Life is not over at 30, 40, 50, 60 or 70 - there is always much more to do, experience, and then put forth new ideas in your own way. Don't leave these important inputs to the university people or the city council people - they are often very wrong!
People should be more like birds - travel with very little luggage, and consider what they see everyday - whether at home, or during travel to other parts of the United States or the world - with an eye of constant, new awareness.
Only then will they then see things which they want to act upon, and proceed to do so. Otherwise we will not be able to move ahead in this next, very important year - 2014.