There’s beauty in the fierce gaze of the Sparrow Hawk as she plunges into my garden, grasping for some hapless little sparrow or tit with her long talons. There’s beauty in the flying manes and flailing hooves of the wild Konik stallions, forgetting their brotherhood in a battle for supremacy over the surrounding mares.

I love the soft, fragile forms of emerging nature in spring, but I think I love the fiery passion even more. When I’m allowed to witness it, I feel awed and humbled.

When I think of humans as predators, I cringe. So much irreparable damage comes to mind! But I wonder, is this due to our predatory nature or more the result of our arrogance? If we stop equating human morality with animal nature, we cannot call the Sparrow Hawk arrogant because she needs small birds to survive. We cannot call stallions cruel because they fight fiercely with teeth and hooves for the right to preserve their gene pool.

What we humans do can be called both cruel and arrogant. We take far more than we need, create extra needs to justify our behavior, and destroy the very habitat we need to survive, thereby putting our survival – and the survival of all that lives – at risk. This goes far further than simply being a predator.

There’s a critical difference between healthy self-esteem and arrogance. In our Western culture, we have learned to place so much value on self-esteem that it tips the balance into arrogance. A healthy dose of humility is needed to bring the balance back. Not too humble; too little self-esteem keeps us from excelling at what we do. But too much self-esteem prevents us from being awed by all that lives and breathes around us.

In my daily life, I teeter back and forth between the two extremes. And, some days, I find the right balance, the right words, the right images. That, too, awes and humbles me.


  1. Mary Lou Gillette

    Wonderfully written Maddi! Like you, I was moved by the fierceness of the Sparrow Hawk’s gaze. It reminded me of certain moments when I have seen that look in the eyes of humans and been very, very afraid. I am grateful for the days when things are in balance too, and it does seem that observing the natural world replenishes our souls and courage to fight against the worst of who we are as humans on this fragile planet. Thank you for your insightful perspective. It has made my day better!

  2. Maddi, excellent post. I was ready to cheer loudly when I read the fourth paragraph about we humans taking more than we need. You can see that at every level – the number and size of cars on the road (especially here in N. America); the size of houses, as big as hotels, being built on valuable farmland where I live, because there isn’t a law to restrict the size or use of farmland for non-farming purposes; the tons and tons of food wasted because we buy more than we can eat, so more and more is produced, just increasing and speeding up the vicious cycle. If only someone could figure out how to bottle or package (and advertise) awe and humility, perhaps it would catch on.

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