2018-06_Editor’s note June_July
The trees have been pollarded on our road. This happens every other year and it’s the only chance for us to grow anything edible in our yarden (we don’t have a garden, it’s a yard but quite European with white walls and pretty flowers and oregano growing through the cracks). So I disappeared off to the local garden centre and loaded up with things to grow.
As I planted in the sun I witnessed a distressing scene. I love David Attenborough but hate watching “nature” devouring itself or being unable to survive. But because the trees are so bare I could not ignore what was happening. We have lots of roosting birds around the area, and whilst I’m not a huge fan of starlings found myself siding with the parent of a nest of chicks trying to ward off a magpie looking for lunch. The noise from the starling was cacophonous and despite the difference in size, it stood its ground sending out verbal warnings to the predator. Unfortunately, the magpie was able to pull a chick from the nest and, well I think you can guess what happened next. The starling went into overdrive and the noise and dive-bombing eventually pushed the magpie away from the rest of the nest.
It got me thinking about parents and how they want to protect their children. If anybody/thing crossed my path whilst my boys are with me I would rear up to defend them; I’m sure that’s a reaction most parents would empathise with. But I’m now reaching a stage where my teenage son wants to go out with his friends and not be shadowed by his mum, so what can I do to safeguard him?
Like the starling we recently had a magpie in “the nest”. A regular fair appeared in our local park and the people that run it make sure it’s a family affair. But, in the park, outside of the fair, there was stabbing requiring an air ambulance to attend. The victim suffered “life altering” wounds. How can I protect my children from this?
The Facebook timeline for the local police suggested all manner of reasons as to why this happened. “No moral compass” “Blame the parents” “Technology” “Lack of police presence” “No youth clubs” and tellingly “gangs who don’t like anything different to themselves”.
All of these things are scary both independently and collectively. But I do hope there is a crumb of comfort. Religious Education was an optional subject when I was at school but few took it to study at exam level. Now it seems that most schools have it as compulsory subject and it’s been renamed Religious Studies. The aim is to make students more aware and respectful of other people’s cultures and to act inclusively. Whilst I know there will always be wars between starlings and magpies both literally and metaphorically, I hope that the study of different religions will mean the need to safeguard our children will lessen as they become a more accepting society.