Look beyond appearance and prejudice

Looking beyond appearances and prejudice.

Everything in nature is good says the philosopher Heraclitus.  Humans love to divide everything into good and bad, thus missing the beauty of what nature offers in the blindness of their prejudices.

Everything in nature is good says the philosopher Heraclitus. Humans love to divide everything into good and bad, thus missing the beauty of what nature offers in the blindness of their prejudices.

A few years ago, I intervened to save a baby crow from traffic and school children, taking it to a veterinarian surgery, who had the contacts of people who could look after it.  The receptionist annoyed me on seeing the bird describing it as “evil.”

In fact, if people can look beyond the superstitious nonsense surrounding these black feathered birds, there is an intelligent empathy lurking inside these beautiful corvids.  If humans, dolphins and octopuses are in the top division of “intelligent” animals, the corvids, including magpies, jackdaws, ravens, crows, choughs and rooks, are in the same division.  The corvids use tools, play, can problem-solve, express empathy and have a rudimentary sense of self based on experiments showing they recognise themselves in a mirror.  The BBC recently reported how a child had developed a close relationship with crows she was feeding in the garden, birds that were leaving her gifts.  A flood of feedback by readers revealed that gift-giving by corvids to those showing kindness to them was common around the world.

The symbol of my town port is the raven. My business carries the logo of the raven, a symbol for me of its intelligence.  The stories of various archetypes such as Apollo, the Celtic Mercury and Odin had ravens as their messenger birds, who symbolised memory, thought, wisdom, intelligence, and the gathering or delivery of knowledge.

The sad situation is that most people blind themselves to the beauty of a living thing like a crow or raven, based on appearance and prejudice, so that they will do it harm, even though it might manifest the very qualities of intelligence and empathy that humans admire but often appear to lack.

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19 responses to “Look beyond appearance and prejudice

  1. I love crows, they are such clever birds. Have you read Crow Country by Mark Cocker? A very thoughtful book about his love of corvids and rooks in particular.

  2. I too love crows and I loved the story of the little girl who receives gifts from the crows she has fed for years. There have been so many studies that show the intelligence of crows. One such study was done at a university where the researchers would walk out with students as classes let out wearing a halloween mask. Each time they did the crows picked out the person with the mask and sent alarm warnings with a distinctive cry. They memorize our faces and the topography, knowing the people and land forms in our neighborhoods better than most the people living there.

    Coming from a farming community it drove me nuts to see intelligent people who at the first sign of a crow would grab their guns to shoot it even if they didn’t have crops they were protecting. Who are we to decide who gets to live or not?

  3. Renard Moreau

    [ Smiles ] Ray, some people are merely ignorant.

    Crows are not evil; that is the way in which the Hollywood movies portrayed them.

    By the way, I missed you; I thought you decided to go the self-hosted way.

  4. I grew up with beach trees surrounding us which were full of crows nests Alex.. they are a Very intelligent bird if one studies their behaviours and far too many need to come out of the dark ages and learn from experience not what has been passed down through superstition … Great Post..

  5. Jean and I have just watched a TED Talk by a Barbara Natterson-Horowitz – What veterinarians know that physicians don’t. Well worth watching as it highlights some of the prejudices that some humans have towards their fellow animal companions.

    Thinking of writing a post on the theme and if I do would like to refer to your post.

    • Hi Paul, you are welcome to use this or any other post in your blog.

      I have just viewed the video:

      I am a fan of the holistic approach, mixing many disciplines together, rather than separation of everything into their segments, because it encourages the mixing of wisdom as can happen between vet and human medical professions.

  6. Alex, what a wonderful act of kindness and empathy. Leading from the front.

  7. Pingback: Seeing the bigger picture. | Learning from Dogs

  8. Crows are so misunderstood. Hundreds of years ago when man’s wars left dead bodies in the open crows were part of natures clean up. So they got a bad rap. The PMW indigenous people know crow/raven as the true creator. Love my crow families r

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