Who doesn’t love the sight of birds? What is an early morning or late evening without their happy chirps and twitters to start & end the day with? Our heart leaps in joy each time we catch a glimpse of migratory birds soaring above our heads or a flock of parakeets fly by with their unmistakable, shriek calls. It makes us happy, because we know these birds are happy too, happy to be flying, happy to with many others of their own kind. They’ve got neither bounds nor limitations. They are free to go & fly to anywhere, they need no VISAs. The vast planet is their home, unlike we ‘humans’ who have divided the land mass into bits, given them some names and then claimed them as mine & yours. Their freedom is so much more than what we are entitled to. You can’t even stay on a foreign land, a day more than for what you have been granted permission for. Yet, with such limited freedom, compared to what the other inhabitants on this planet enjoy, ‘freedom’ matters & means a lot to us. Confinement is considered as a ‘punishment’ in our hypocritical world of ‘humans’, a punishment for a wrong doing or for an act of crime. And even this, receives a lot of flak from the ‘human rights activists’ who term it as cruel and what not.
The other day i happened to pass by a pet store, which I’d rather term as a ‘torture chamber for animals & birds’, for the other name is way too misleading. In that dingy, stinky place, there were several glamorous looking cages that housed many an exotic birds that were chirping in panic & distress. Chirping for help, to be released, to be able to take to blue skies once again, to snuggle & sleep with its family at dusk on the cosy branches at the tree top…
In the human world, evil deeds & crimes like murder for instance, are awarded with a lifetime’s imprisonment. What crime or wrong have our little feathered friends’ committed then, to deserve a lifetime’s confinement like this? That they are beautiful, peaceful, have done no harm to anyone, they have sweet voices and peppy chirps? Is that what they are being punished for? I see a tragic humor in instances when i see people decorate their bird cages with colorful ribbons, bands and stars, etc . Does it mean anything to the bird inside, would it feel proud & happy, that it has such cool looking ribbons tied to its cage? What is it to the bird? A highly decorated prison? That’s exactly what it is. It doesn’t matter if the prison has been made of gold with diamonds studded into its bars. A prison is still a prison, and it’s still a punishment for anyone behind it. When people say that their caged birds sing, i ask them, do they really ‘sing’? or are they crying? What songs can your caged birds, with their wings clipped, probably be singing? Ever paused to think about it? They are all singing sad songs in there, song of loneliness, of being imprisoned for life, calling out to their other friends who are free and flying, wanting to join them. Do you think waking up to these songs everyday fills your atmosphere with positive vibes? Get a reality check as early as it can get. If your birds like you so much that they actually are singing out songs to keep you entertained, then please carry out this test, which will help you know what they truly like or love, for that matter. Open the doors of the cage, and wait. This, i assure you, would be the shortest wait of your lifetime. Do you think they’d stay in there even for a few minutes on realizing they’ve been given a chance at freedom? That’s what they want & that’s what they truly love, ‘freedom’, just as much as you love & want yours. For God’s sake, birds were never created to entertain us, to sing out songs for ‘us’! How would you like if an alien from another planet found you beautiful & your voice very melodious, smuggled you out of your home one night, took you back with him and kept you in a well decorated cage made of all platinum? And each time you cried to be let out, cried for freedom; the alien would enjoy it as a beautiful song from you, worth hearing to again and again and again. That is what you’d be doing these winged jewels, if you keep them captive. What sort a mind would then seek pleasure in keeping caged birds? Only the selfish & unevolved minds.
How different are these birds from us? Aren’t they social, just like us? In fact they enjoy greater freedom than us, ‘cos they can fly off to countries, stay there for as long as they wish and they need no authorities to grant them ‘passports’ for their journeys. ‘Freedom’ means a lot more to them and is a lot ‘stronger’ term for them, than what it is for us who can only enjoy limited freedom. It means everything to them. Don’t they have families and don’t they painstakingly build nests to which they fly back to, each dusk? Don’t they want to make babies & take care of them? How different are they from us and how can we hypocrites set dual standards then, one for our own kind and one for anything that is defenseless, voiceless or cannot speak up or fight for its rights? Why do we have the tendency to take for granted, anything that isn’t human? They may not be humans, but they still have lives that they wish to live the way they want to & are capable of feeling the same emotions that we do. Compassion towards all creatures, is preached in every religion & here, legend has it that even Sita (Lord Rama’s wife from the epic ‘Ramayan’) was not spared for keeping a parrot caged for many years. She too was made to face a painful separation of many years, from her loving husband Ram, as a consequence of keeping this bird in solitary confinement. Legends apart, it’s time we humans practiced ‘Compassion’ as our one universal religion, by which our planet would highly benefit from.
No animal wishes imprisonment, no animal or bird looks forward to die in imprisonment or die. They all fear the same things that we do. Prisons are a human invention & should be best used for humans only- the actual evil doers of the planet, not for any other life, incapable of anything even remotely evil. Even the so called ‘cruel’ lion, hunts only when he’s hungry, never for game.
A word of caution for those of you considering freeing your caged birds due to a change in heart or whatever may be the reason, please do your home work carefully before doing so. Releasing birds that are not native to your place will only end up making your bird quick snack to other predatory birds. For example, releasing a budgie (which is native to Australia) in India, would kill it in the first few hours of setting it free, because they have lost the art of surviving in wild, since most are bred in captivity. Even those smuggled from their original places can’t make it here, as this is a complete alien place for them. However, rehabilitating & releasing a rose ringed parakeet in India is fine, as it belongs here. Exotic bird trade is a vicious cycle out there and only when the demand ends, so would the supply. Hope it won’t be too late by the time this realization dawns upon all men & hope our future generations, don’t get to see our animals and birds only in books or recorded documentaries. In order to change this sorry state of affairs, we need to bring about a positive change and that change should start from our homes. Let’s pledge never to keep any life caged and educate our near and dear ones about the same, for it is but a sin to take away from anyone, something that is not yours to take- be it ‘freedom’ or be it ‘life’.
To freedom! May all birds fly free and sing songs of bliss & happiness, as they fly!