Vultures

Right after I wrote my last post, news broke of the terrorist attack in Paris. Like everyone else, I have my opinion, and several unfinished posts are the evidence of it. The reasons you haven’t seen them are simple. First, unless we’ve gone through something like this, either as a victim or as family and friends of victims, we really don’t understand how it feels. Second, perhaps because of the first point, it’s all too easy to put a personal spin on these things. We can even do that when we feel empathy for the victims. But the third reason is there are those so low that they are more than willing to use a tragedy to their own ends, be it financial or political or both. I think of the last as vultures. In America we call vultures buzzards.

A vulture isn’t picky. They soar high into the air looking for a rotting carcass they can use. When they find one, they land in great numbers. When the carcass is small, they squabble among themselves. When there is no carcass, they aren’t above making one, preying on those they deem vulnerable. When disturbed by a car or predator, they flap off a short distance and quickly return. There they’ll stay until they scrape every last bit from the bones. Then it’s off to the air, to search for the next putrid morsel.

There’s seldom a shortage of vultures. It wasn’t long after Paris before the first ones landed, taking tentative hops, testing the political landscape before making that first bite. Just as there’s more than one type of vulture in the wild, there were all sorts here, just as they are after every tragedy. The precise type doesn’t matter. A vulture is defined by habits, not politics.

I’ve never cared for the human variety of vulture. The natural variety serves a purpose by removing carcasses and limiting the spread of disease. That’s what real vultures do. There’s no reason for the human variety to prey on someone’s tragedy, to warp pain and suffering to their own ends. Didn’t care for it when I saw it in my own family; don’t care for it when I see it on the political stage. That requires lowness, a callous lack of empathy, a selfish that sees no wrong in using tragedy to manipulate others.

You have to wonder if vultures really think their cause, whether it’s political or personal power, is worth it. Do any of them ask whether any cause that must feed on tragedy is worth it?

It’s been two weeks since Paris. If you’ll notice, most of the vultures have flown off to other tragedies. A few will stick around for the last few bits, and will eventually move own as well. Tragedies, unfortunately, aren’t uncommon.

Vultures seldom go hungry.

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