February 21, 2013

A Bird In The Hand

In life, our small actions are overlooked and often discounted. But they are important. On Shabbat, I read a beautiful story about an action that was small, yet beautiful.

On an army base during the recent election day, a soldier found a cat with a live bird in its mouth. He managed to rescue the bird from the cat’s jaws, but when he examined the bird, he realized it was badly wounded. Its heart pumping, the bird was fighting for its life. He cradled the small bird and placed it in a box.

With little time to spare, the soldier jumped in his jeep. He was determined to take the bird to a vet but was soon stuck in snarled traffic. Both the highways and the side roads were clogged with cars. On that day, everyone in the country had decided to take a tiyul, creating a nation-wide traffic jam.  (I can vouch for this; see my post Of Beaches and Ballot Boxes).

When the soldier realized he was not able to drive anywhere quickly, he called Hatzolah, the volunteer emergency medical service that transports the sick to hospitals and performs emergency first aid. Since many Hatozlah volunteers drive motorbikes, they are able to arrive on the scene of emergencies quite quickly. A Hatzolah motorbike wove through the cars and hugged the shoulders of the highways, arriving on the scene in time. The box with its fragile contents was handed to a vet and the bird survived.

This seemingly small action does reverberate. It is so tender and touching, it will remain with me a long time, certainly longer than the so-called great deeds that the Western world worships. This tiny tale has the power to remain with us longer than  the plot of a Hollywood blockbuster or the scores of the Superbowl.

And its image also affects me. When I read the story, I envisage a big strong soldier with large hands and a huge heart. I do not know who he is, but I feel that his compassion is deeper than that of most people in this world.  He could have let the cat keep its prey or simply rescued the bird and let nature take its course, leaving the tiny animal to die.  But he did not; he saw life in danger and he took huge steps to save a tiny being.

We may associate soldiers with might and perhaps insensitivity. We rationalize that soldiers need to be tough to do their job.  This one story turns these stereotypes upside down. And when the outside world accuses our soldiers of violence and brutality, let them consider the high level of humanity here.

Yes, I believe that small actions reflect greatness.  And I feel they can reverberate and make a difference in the world. I just need to look way up. Maybe I will see that little bird soaring high.

photo credit: Postsumptio via photopin cc

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