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In defense of pigeons: A lesson in respect and tolerance

Written By Emily Yurchison

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There’s a lot to talk about in the day to day political climate. Bombings, elections, air strikes, Supreme Court justices. The list goes on, and painfully so. But instead of talking about those things, I’m going to take a breather, hop onto a new soapbox and speak in defense of something a little closer, geographically, to Point Park.

Pigeons.

To many, they’re just vermin who get in the way when you’re walking to class. To some extent, that’s all true. Pigeons do in fact carry diseases, and they do have a tendency to get in your way on the street. But if I’m just being completely honest, if you just change a couple words in that sentence you’re also talking about humans.

Pigeons get a lot of crap thrown at them on a day to day basis and almost 100% of it is caused by humans. Be it punk kids trying to kick them while waiting for the bus, or some college kid trying to step on them for a cheap laugh, but have you ever paused to consider the fact that a pigeon has the actual resources to crap on you. Even if they do poop on you, rather than be angry and curse the pigeon, change your perspective. In many cultures it’s good luck to get pooped on by a bird.

To most, they are winged rats. To me, they are survivors. They fearlessly walk alongside man, like equals. They fearlessly walk into oncoming traffic, like warriors. They look danger in the eyes and scoff. They hobble around the city in the most mesmerizing fashion, like a once fabulous woman who spent a few too many nights in her stilettos.

Speaking of fearlessness, during World Wars I and II pigeons were used to relay top secret messages. They were chosen for their instinctual homing capabilities, and for their service they were awarded the Dickens Medal.

So yeah, there are 32 pigeons who are war heroes. Their missions were dangerous, enemy forces would try and shoot down the pigeons in hopes to intercept the message. One such pigeon lost her leg and her eye, but saved the lives of American infantrymen who were surrounded.

Aside from that fact, let’s think critically here. Why do people really hate pigeons? Because they carry diseases? So do humans, so do squirrels, rats and chickens. Because they can poop on you? So does every other species of bird, and humans too. Because they have wings? First of all, they can’t help that. Second of all, so do butterflies and every other species of bird. Because they’re gross? So are a lot of things, humans included.

I’m not saying that pigeons deserve to be worshipped or that they deserve to be treated better than people. I’m saying they deserve better. They don’t deserve to be kicked by punk kids or stepped on. They’re products of nature and vital to an ecosystem. It may not seem that way, but it’s true. We used to treat the bees like they were disposable and now we’re facing an environmental crisis because of our neglect. It’s unfair to hate something just because it’s gross or it gets in your way.

It is important now more than ever to show respect to those around us. Sometimes it starts small with working past your prejudices against pigeons.  You may think it doesn’t matter, but it does.

Making room in your heart to be kind to pigeons makes room to be kind to people you may not like. It’s an exercise in tolerance, and I think we could all use some exercises in tolerance.

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