This I Believe

Kamal - Irvine, California
Entered on March 7, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

Kew in the Jungle

By: Kamal Artin, MD

Criticism ranges from a constructive and balanced disagreement to a fanatical and destructive approach of burning one’s national identity. While the former might be a sign of confidence and lead to a win-win solution, the latter could indicate insecurity and cause a lose-lose battle! In a debate over constructive criticism as the engine for social evolution somebody argued: mentioning the negative cultural aspects of our struggling people will discourage international community to side with them. This relatively reasonable yet short sighted argument reminded me of the characteristic, habitat, and behavior of Kew, a beautiful but not flawless bird native to Zagros Mountains, where she has become one of the national symbols of a stateless people.

Like some humans living in wilderness, Kew, the red legged partridge, lives in a territory where the fittest survives and there is no need for choices, civility, and equality. She is a beautiful, strong, and free bird with a captivating rhythmic song. A major weakness of this lovely bird during the winter is its habit of hiding her head in the snow, when facing a predator. She assumes if she avoids seeing her own tail, the predator would not see it either. When caught by a predatory king of the jungle, a captured Kew is used to sing and attract other free birds to serve the king.

Kew has learned that depending on their nature, various kings of the jungle might have a different attitude toward their captives and their territories. What is common between the wild kings is that with their urine they mark any land they occupy as their own. Probably such an attitude might have started with the dinosaurs. After the empires of the dinosaurs’ ended, mammals such as bears, foxes, gorillas, and rhinos thought the jungles from Indochina to Alaska and from North to South Pole should be part of their kingdom. Among the mammalian kings of the jungles, the bears were more aggressive in their territorial expansion until they realized they too might become extinct unless they let the cute teddy bears in the new world lead the jungle and tell them what to do.

So the teddies told the mother bears to change from colonizing kings of the jungles to investors in imitation, artificial conception, and cloning. Among other things, they started cloning sheep, since no natural sheep was following their lead any more; they taught a parrot to imitate their talk and a turkey to walk their walk; they made two camels conceive with a Kew, to create twin ostriches; size become less important so the trained turkeys and parrots were allowed to rule over a mid size jungle, many camels over dozens of small jungles, and the twin ostriches over two jungles the size of two ‘ba’ath rooms’.

Kews noted that all over the new jungles, dogs liked cloned sheep for their programmed and predictable behavior. Parrots, turkeys, and camels were pleased with themselves and with the twin ostriches, since these artificial animals had the feathers of the birds and the shape of the camels. The only dissatisfied animal was the Kew who had no option but to sing for whoever owned her. Meanwhile the ostriches became rivals with everyone, especially with a migratory wounded jaguar that finally has settled in its original territory and the territory of one of the abandoned camels. One of the ostriches attacked even few other animals and became so envious of the parrot for its imitating skills that helped a snail mess up its territory.

Soon the snail took over the parrot’s territory. Nobody thought that such a small creature could run a jungle, since snails are very slow in moving forward. Kew had noted that a snail or mollusk is covered in a shell, has a small narrow opening for the head to come out, mainly feeds on decaying matters, and secrete a slime that is fatal. If not controlled, snails could turn any territory into a poisonous and dangerous wilderness. They hide themselves except after rainy days when they become outgoing and a prey for large birds. Free birds such as Kews tend to ignore snails; maybe they think these poisonous creatures do not tolerate much sun shine and go underground through natural selection anyway.

In contrast to Kew’s egalitarian attitude, a bird such as turkey might like snails as a meal or dislike them as the king of the jungle. Turkey is notable for its inflexible neck, which makes it unable to turn its head and see the diversity of a jungle. A turkey has the potential to fly but can not do so because of its anatomical limitations, yet proudly keeps its inflexible head up and moves faster than some crawling animals in the jungle. With a simple modification of its anatomy, such as changing an ‘M’ to an ‘L’, a turkey might even be able to fly. According to some modern myths, a papa-turkey once became the king of the jungle and decided to eliminate the snails in his territory for their slow crawling. He enjoyed this elimination so much that he decided to eliminate any other species smaller than him including the Kew. He soon marked the territories of other creatures with his urine and became known as the Muscular King Above Territory (MKAT). Despite the homogenizing efforts of MKAT and painful invasion of Kew’s territory, as a species this free bird has remained alive and is reminding the world about her condition in the jungle by her rhythmic songs.

While snails are unpopular nowadays and could function only as an oily food for some predators, turkeys have made it to become a popular meal for the joyful teddy bears on Thanksgiving Day. This joyful people also like to ride on a resourceful camel here and there when they visit the deserts. They think artificial ostriches were a mistake and should be eliminated. For the Kews, some still fly freely in nature and have not become a meal for the predators, some have not learned and still hide their head in the snow without knowing their tail remains visible, and some are worried what would happen, if the jungle has a stronger king such as a tough but greedy elephant or a soft but ignorant donkey; would they become a meal or a tool for such kings or would they become cohabitants of a diverse animal park that follows the law of a civil society. I believe no wild and artificial creatures have been able to shut down the singing free Kews. I hope the international community finally recognizes how this unique bird could contribute to the beauty of our diverse world.