When I wanted to begin writing this article, I was at a loss as to what to make the subject matter; should I write [about] the evil that men do? I hesitated, thinking about how much I wanted to stay away from a centuries’-old-and-over-flogged theme. Should I just go ahead and write about the art of tolerance?  

Like many residents in the city of Abuja, I live in an estate and, every morning, at my backyard a collection of various birds – chickens, canaries, swallows, red-breasted robins and other colorful varieties – sing. They are ever so chirrupy, and they never stop…

I love them so much that I remember writing a poem dedicated to them. I felt the need to, at least, give them a daily, royal, welcome by entertaining them once in a while. I have been doing this for several years now.

A few weeks ago, to my consternation, my family members mentioned to my hearing that the birds including the chickens were dropping dead in turns. I was so worried and anxious, wondering if the bird feeds I was feeding them did not agree with their system. Upon further investigation, however, we learnt that someone [who lived close by] had been feeding them poisoned feeds whenever they strayed into his compound.

 He must have been enraged upon seeing their droppings all over his compound, which constituted a nuisance. But I thought, “the droppings should have come in handy as manure for his garden now?”

I was livid with anger and felt that I should go confront him. On a second thought, though, I felt that it would not be right.

First, I do not have any proof to that information; just the word of his help that he overheard him mutter under his breath that he was “going to kill them” the other day they came ‘visiting’. He further claimed that, afterwards, he [the help] saw him fed them, a thing he never did.

Secondly, I didn’t know the owners of these birds and going to fight for them would have been out of order.

That episode has left me musing about the working of the human mind and how we should tolerate even the creatures which we do not value that much.

In my reverie, I mused that the compound was vast enough to accommodate every other harmless creature that wouldn’t harm us or destroy our properties. All they have to do is come around once in a while.

We are just humans and can only use as much space as we can handle, as time permits. We cannot be the only occupiers of what we call our ‘space’.

Again, most of us hardly have the time to enjoy the beautiful, natural scenes behind our houses; so, why can’t we share with others what nature has so freely availed us? Considering other creatures, as well, it is important to point out that, when, God, in his infinite mercies, blessed us with a home, He didn’t inform us that it was ours for keeps.

As He created a habitat for us, he did same for them. He put other creatures here to share and enjoy the home with us. This is a fact we must always have at the back of our minds.

Furthermore, In my musings, I questioned the concept of ownership. What do we even ‘own’? Do we really ‘own’ anything? At the end of the day, this home and everything in it would not be ours. In a second, we can drop down and die and then, what becomes of all that we claim that we own?

So, why can’t we tolerate and share the bounties which we possess today? We can’t use it all anyway, we can’t fill up the spaces in our homes anyway, we can’t sit in our gardens the whole day, nor can we exhaust all of the gifts we have been blessed with – gifts which we never asked for in the first place. I mean, these are just birds, creatures we don’t get to see all day; perhaps, just once in a day.

It breaks my heart that anyone can conceive the thought of doing away with them because they came to ‘hang’ around us for a little while. I feel it’s such a blessing to be able to see them and enjoy their fluttering around our horizons once in a while, sprinkled with their little cute morning offerings all around our  surroundings.

Devious plans are conceived when we become intolerant of one another, even murdering little creatures that did us no wrong.

For this man, his thoughts started with these birds ‘littering’ his compound with their droppings. Annoyed, he formed a plan to get rid of them, activated it by going further to find poisons to do away with them. What actions do you think such a person will resort to if angered by, say another human?

Author’s tips

I beg us all to watch the thoughts which sneak into our minds, examine them and prevent them from taking any root. Discarding them as soon as they are conceived, evacuate them from their roots not to allow them take any shape, whatsoever, in our minds. These thoughts must not be allowed to become bigger and, as a result, out of control.

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