Zen Buddhism and Martial Arts


Author of this essay:

Ven. Ming Zhen Shakya
(October 9, 2012)

by Ming Zhen Shakya

Nevermind that we'll soon be needing a wheelbarrow to carry our currency to the grocery store to buy a loaf of bread. Print those greenbacks! We need to pay all those BLM; EPA; Fish & Wildlife; ADA; etc. etc. workers who work so hard at... at... give me a minute...

...Making sure that access to Nevada's execution chamber accommodates Americans With Disabilities? No, it can't be that. That is as vital to American security as reserving all the best parking places for persons who have at least six degrees of separation from the disabled.

How about.... The BLM stampeding to death by helicopters that symbol of American freedom, the Mustang? No, it surely can't be that. Not even the jack-booted thugs of the BLM could sleep nights thinking about baby horses being run to death with their hearts bursting in their chests. Building barricades to watering holes so that the whole family - mare, stallion, colt, and filly - will die of thirst - now that is noble employment! It can't be that.

What about... another forty years of spending uncountable millions to solve the devastating asian carp invasion of American waters. Yes, but first the public has to grow tired of watching all those federal and state Fish and Game Entertainers electrocute river water to see all those zapped fish jump up. (Now that is just too good a show to end!) It can't be that. Give them another forty years. (The carp began their invasion in 1973.)

(For those persons who prefer to see American innovation rather than government nepotism and incompetence, this YouTube film is well worth watching: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rF-STc3-Js&feature=related. Private Enterprise and a New Orleans Chef named Philippe Parola have an answer... but he's not on the government payroll. And if successful he will increase private industry jobs and solve the asian carp invasion - but in consideration of government slugs, can we tolerate that?

All Right. Let's move on. Consider the following: In Nevada, in the City of North Las Vegas, there lives a lady by the name of Marion Brady.

One day back in 2008, Ms. Brady, while visiting a local wildlife preserve, sadly watched an orphaned hummingbird hatch from its tiny eggshell. Hummingbirds are plentiful here in Las Vegas. (We are rather fond of the creatures and are probably the largest consumer of hummingbird feeders in the universe.)

To understand the anger voiced in this paper, it is necessary to know that in the winter the desert gets bitterly cold at night. Few people believe this until they experience it for themselves. Moisture mitigates temperature and without moisture, the temperature soars by day and plummets by night.

Sometimes a little joy offsets the merciless cold. This joy can be had by awaking on any bitterly cold winter morning and looking out a bedroom window and seeing tiny emerald green hummingbirds sitting on the twig of a barren tree, waiting for someone to come out and replace the frozen ice in their feeder with a fresh batch of hot sugar water that has been spiked with a few drops of Poly-Vi-Sol (baby vitamins).

With the temperature below freezing, the hummingbirds fly to the hot sugar water and you can see in their eyes (which of course you cannot really see) that they think they are in heaven.

So, Ms. Brady looked at this newly hatched baby that did not stand a snowball's chance in hell of surviving... because the baby has to be fed every twenty minutes and who is going to do that? The GSA? (General Services Administration). Not bloody likely! (Would you trust any one of the clowns at the GSA to understand what the big hand is doing relative to the little hand?)

photo credit: tumblr.com

Ms. Brady did not shirk from the divine mandate to avoid having an albatross hung around her neck. She offered to try to save the life of the tiny bird.

Tiny is a relative word. The species that is common around here weighs, when fully grown, about a penny (3 grams). A newborn hummingbird is the size of Lincoln's image on that penny.

Ms. Brady took the baby bird home, checked the internet and called Cornell University's Ornithology department for specific advice, and between Google and Cornell she received the necessary instructions about feeding the bird a mixture of sugar water and protein powder. She named the little bird "Squeak" and cared for it until it was able to fly away on its own. Squeak did not fly far. He was a male and being so, hung around to mate with another rescued baby hummingbird who happened to be a female. And we all know where this is heading. More little Squeaks are nesting in the trees in Ms. Brady's back yard.

Over the next four years Ms. Brady on her own initiative and at her own expense saved the lives of thirty hummingbirds. She didn't offer people a bounty for bringing her injured birds.... and she didn't ask for compensation for caring for the birds. She was just a good person, a good Samaritan, who volunteered to help.

On July 7, 2012, the Review Journal, the largest newspaper in the State, did a story about her hard work and generosity. By September, one of the geniuses at the Nevada Department of Wildlife managed to find someone who could read the story to him and he immediately ordered a raid on her illegal operation. (Writers of Dennis Quaid's new crime show VEGAS should pick up this story line!)

As reported by the Review Journal, the State official charged that both the Nevada Department of Wildlife and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service must issue permits "to hold and rehabilitate migratory birds - even if the birds are not endangered or threatened - [in order] to ensure that people 'are following accepted protocols and procedures' and 'aren't just removing wildlife from the wild on a whim." She had not obtained the necessary governmental permission!

The Fish and Game SWAT team immediately busted her.

We do not know whether or not she had any tykes in her little hospital when they raided her. If she had, I do not want to think about their fate.

Ms. Brady took down her little hummingbird website and announced that she would try to obtain the necessary permits. (Good luck, Ms. Brady!)

When Nevada citizens were outraged by this news and took the trouble to let their officials know that they were outraged by the actions of these lunatic bureaucrats who were running amok at taxpayer's expense, they were told that the law is the law and the "authorities" had no discretion in the matter. Excuse me? The authorities had no discretion? Authorities had the discretion to break a zillion laws and give Mexican drug cartels several thousand combat weapons with which to murder Mexican families - not to mention American border guards. Are we to believe that authorities who are empowered to "protect the environment" are bereft of any discretionary power when it comes to feeding orphaned hummingbirds?

And whom shall we blame? The "authorities" say it's all those laws the various Animal Rights people and the Humane Society have put on the books! How are these Regulatory Laureates supposed to know the difference between Dr. Moreau and Marion Brady? Really, how can they possibly discern a pixel's worth of difference between the image of a baby hummingbird being fed with an eyedropper and some ornithological Frankenstein performing a vivisection experiment on a 1 gram creature strapped down on his gurney

But we are missing the point.

Recall how - just a few paragraphs ago - I spoke of the joy of giving hot sugar water to tiny hummingbirds in the desert's freezing winter mornings? If the law says that, "migrating birds are not to be held and rehabilitated," what does "migrating" mean? Where do these birds migrate from or to? Patagonia? Cancun? Prudhoe Bay? Manaus? Tuktoyaktuk? (I watch Ice Road Truckers.)

This is my personal proof that our local hummingbirds do not migrate anywhere.


The Locust Tree outside my window is a deciduous tree. It has no leaves on it because it is winter. The bird on the hummingbird feeder is a hummingbird. (For the record, the plants inside are a phalaenopsis orchid and a jade plant.)

Are we losing our vision as a nation? It is perhaps understandable that these Fish and Game twits cannot distinguish differences between a snakehead and a trout, but those red bottles that hang under so many of our eaves in the winter? Do they suppose that these are Christmas decorations?

Since these "authorities" have informed us that our hummingbirds "are migrating birds" - the ones that exist here in the winter must be an invasive species.! And regulatory experts are only doing their duty (The law is the law) by halting their proliferation. No doubt they regard this victory over invasive hummingbirds as a counterbalance to their regulatory defeats. They couldn't stop the brown tree snake from destroying Guam's bird life, and they couldn't stop the Formosan subterranean termites from destroying much of the American southeast's real estate; and God knows, under their blitzkrieg eradication of the Asian carp the fish have thriven magnificently. For several decades the protectors of the environment have battled the monstrous Snakehead which is, no doubt, the reason the fish are alive and well and spreading so nicely in our waters. Perhaps it is the environment of the Snakehead that the agencies think they are supposed to protect. That would seem to be the case with the spread and growth rate of all those pythons that are destroying native animals and pets in Florida. The bigger the snake, the more likely the regulatory agents will be photographed with it.

The question remains: why is a law against "holding and rehabilitating migratory birds" being enforced in the case of a non-migratory bird? And what should a human being do when an injured migratory bird lands in his yard? Call the office of the Fish and Game Department?

This interference by State agents in the private endeavors of a citizen constitutes brainless dictatorial oppression. This behavior surely violates the "mission statement" that got them funded in the first place.

These little birds give us a lesson in life. Their indomitable nature is exemplary... inspirational. The ones who stay here through the winter are three gram warriors that have the noble hearts of Samurai or Navy Seals. These little Champions are tougher than eagles! Whether it is 16˚ F (-9˚ C) or 116˚ F (47˚ C), they stand their ground. Without fail, on any dreary winter day, they will deliver joy and beauty.

Other true champions are people like Marion Brady and Philippe Parola... Bob Barker and the Sea Shepherd people.. and the thousands of citizens who rescue and protect simply because it is, as the Holy Man said, "the nature of a human being to help a creature in need."

The idea that Marion Brady should have to pay for permits from the federal government and the State of Nevada for permission to feed orphaned baby hummingbirds is beneath contempt.

The State of Nevada owes Ms. Brady an apology.

A full grown hummingbird.

Photo credit: colonmi.com
Humming Bird