(Perforated Lines -- you can't resist 'em)

(the birds of september)

(yesterday)Saturday, September 30, 2000(tomorrow)

 (On Display logo)

12:39 a.m. Yes, it's that time again -- time to turn the calendar, time to squeeze in my On Display collab entry, time to put together a lovely new look for my October pages, time to cast our sins onto the water.

Yes, it's those nasty sins again, accumulating as they are wont to do, messing up the clean pure surface of our souls. Catholics have confession to clear their conscience once a week or so, and Jews have this day of Rosh Hashanah once every year. Find some body of water, cast out some bread as the symbolic sin, and let the poor unsuspecting birds come and carry it away.

Might that be a sin against birds?

We'll never know because we really don't know exactly what a sin is, do we? Unless the state or the religious institution or our parents tell us that something is wrong -- how would we know? Could we depend on guilt if we didn't first have the rule book smacking us upside the head from a very early age?

I'm afraid that it's often a matter of feeling good -- the second I do, I look around guiltily and brace myself for the black spattering that my poor soul must be enduring. Rich food? Sinful. Long, lazy days in which no useful work is produced? Bad. Sex, drugs, rock and roll? Don't even ask.

This sort of sin is the kind that is carefully taught. It takes a lot of schooling to feel stupid; a lot of hammering to feel numb. You have to be well-versed to know where you've gone wrong in matters of worship and sacrifice and piety and prayer.

On the other hand, the self-taught hand, I instinctually sense that it's a sin to make another person feel bad. Sure, you may be in pain yourself and sure, that explains why you're lashing out -- but I have a very strong suspicion that hurting another human being is a huge, huge sin. Obviously, you're not supposed to harm the physical person of the guy standing beside you, but what about his feelings, his inner being?

If you push ahead in line, tell the teller how stupid she is, cut the slowpoke off in traffic -- if you do these things, you'd better get yourself down to the waterfront and throw out some bread to the birds, if you ask me. But what if we asked the birds? What would they say?

"Oh goodie! Here come some more of those guilt-ridden hairy flightless beings with their bags of rolls and buns. How in the world did we ever get stuck on a planet with creatures so lumbering and stupid?

"They don't sleep when they're tired or eat when they're hungry. They run when they should walk and drive when they should run. They've forgotten how to play, unless money is involved ... and they are afraid of their own shadows. Fear rules their every waking moment, death and despair invade their dreams.

"Pleasure is always fleeting and they are fraught with worry. They spend their days at work they dread just to make the illusion that they call money. They spend their days and they hoard their money until first one, and then the other runs out.

"Poor deluded creatures. Their big brains are too heavy for flight.

But hey -- the bread's good."

 

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(left ink)all verbiage © Nancy Hayfield Birnes (right ink)