It all started out pretty harmless enough. I was driving through the East Sussex countryside on the way to the airport to pick up a friend’s mother in law with my wife Katrina. We were pleasantly chatting and enjoying the scenery as we made our way....
Our journey came to quite a sudden halt as we went around a meandering bend. In front of us was an ominous line up of 10 vehicles going nowhere fast.
We looked ahead to see if we could see the reason for our delay and noticed that in front of the first stationary vehicle was a rather large pheasant helplessly flapping its wings by the side of the road.
It was rather a disturbing site. We couldn’t tell whether the car had actually hit the bird or was just stopping to see if it was okay.
Before we had a chance to work it out, a woman jumped out of the passenger seat and went over to pick up the bird. She then carried it over to the nearby wooded area and placed it gently on the ground.
I must admit that I am quite 'fair weathered' when it comes to anything needing medical attention, so I felt quite touched by such a noble gesture. I quickly wondered whether I could have found the internal fortitude to do the same.
Then suddenly, without any warning or any hesitation, the woman grabbed the pheasant by its’ throat and snapped its’ neck with her bare hands. She then hastily dropped the bird, rubbed the blood onto her jeans, jumped into the car and took off.
I was speechless.
Visually, it was one of the most gratuitous acts of violence that I had ever witnessed. It also simultaneously struck me that it equally could have been one of the most loving and compassionate.
Eye witness to a killing.
I spent the rest of the day contemplating what I had seen by the road side. How could one act, witnessed from a distance, hold the possibility of such vastly different meanings?
Was the woman a cold blooded killer or was she someone so moved by love that she couldn’t bear to watch another being in such incredible pain?
Without speaking to her personally, I guess I will never know her true intention.
The moral of the story.
So is there some kind of moral to this story?
Well the scene to me was a reminder that there are always a number of ways that we can look at any given situation. It’s amazing how a subtle tilt of the lens can change the meaning of an event so completely.
As Shakespeare famously wrote “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”