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I’m looking out the window of my office, watching the blue jays fighting the squirrels for possession of the bird feeder. 

What do you do when you’re watching a contest, and you kind of wish both sides would lose? 

Four or five bluejays are involved, and I have no idea how many squirrels. It’s a pretty close contest.   The squirrels are bigger, but blue jays are better at team play. The squirrels only come in one at a time, so they’re always outnumbered. 

The problem as I see it is that both the blue jays and the squirrels are sloppy bullies, wasting more than they eat and chasing other birds away.   

It's a little like watching the Cowboys play the Packers. Most rational human beings would like both teams to lose, but that isn’t going to happen, is it? 

I suppose if I’m going to be honest, I always root just a little bit harder for Dallas to lose any game they play, mainly because of the Herschel Walker trade. And who can forget Drew Pearson pushing off in 1975? 

“But wasn’t that almost 50 years ago?” you might ask.   

“So what?” would be my response. My grudge is not that unusual. All over the world, people fighting, and dying because of disputes that started 50, 100, 1000 years ago. There are folks in Afghanistan still mad because Genghis Khan wrecked the irrigation ditches in 1221 and Jews all over the world are in peril because of something that began a couple thousand years ago.  

Back to the blue jays and squirrels. The feeder is full – there's plenty of food to go around. My wife doesn’t yearn to feed squirrels or sparrows, but she’s soft-hearted and sunflower seeds are cheap.   

The rest of the world is like that, too. On a regular basis, around ten percent of the people in the world go to bed hungry. Ten percent is a lot – 800 million people. But there’s enough food in the world to feed everyone. People are hungry not because there’s no food, but because they don’t have any money or they’re unfortunate enough to live where the government is too incompetent to do its job. 

And it’s all because the people in charge all seem to love the phrase “zero-sum.” 

That just means for me to win, you have to lose. That’s true in football, but in the real world, it doesn’t need to be. 

Most disputes, not to mention wars, aren’t caused by actual shortages of resources or territory. They’re caused by men - and it’s almost always men - with a little power and a large ego who want what they don’t have. Like blue jays and squirrels scuffling and scattering sunflower seeds all over the ground, more often than not they ruin more than they get. Throw in some ancient grudges along with ego and greed, and you have a recipe for a messy bird feeder and a complicated world. 

Just my thoughts on a harsh January day, as I watch squirrels and blue jays make a pointless mess, while the sparrows and woodpeckers gaze at them in disgust. 

Copyright 2024 Brent Olson 

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