I heard coyotes howling this morning—a bunch of them. Running to the patio door, I saw four gray creatures boldly moving in the open area between our back fence and the copse of trees delineating the creek. Others were answering their howls from out of sight. On our deck, Mr. Tom stood on high alert, tail fluffed and ears perked.
I picked the cat up and held him so he could see across the little swale. He gave a deep-throated growl to let me know he saw and recognized danger.
I wondered how he knew these guys were predators and would eat him for lunch if they could? Had he encountered coyotes before or was it instinct? Perhaps it was the way they moved.
Predators don’t walk around with their noses on the ground like armadillos, oblivious to their surroundings. Neither do they look nervous, like bunny rabbits, twitching and jumping at every little sound.
Cats are predators also. Perhaps Mr. Tom simply recognized his own stance and behavior, only bigger and running in a pack.
Cats and coyotes can be sneaky. After they’ve spotted their prey, they go into stealth mode and almost look submissive, crawling on their bellies, inching forward.
There’s a subtle difference, though, in the submissive animal and one sneaking up on its prey: his ears are up when he’s stalking and his eyes are on the victim.
People can be predators too. Over the phone, on the Internet and in print, people use words in an aggressive and destructive fashion. Some that have been bandied about lately are, “I have a right,” and “I deserve.” In an attempt at subtlety or to gain more leverage, predatory people will sometimes substitute the pronoun “we” for “I”.
Words like these get my hackles up because they convey a brazen demand rather than a meek request.
If you live in the United States, you have some Constitutional Rights. Unless you are here illegally or unless you are a felon, in which case you have forfeited some but not all. Even so, what I hear and read “declared” by predatory people has nothing to do with those rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” protected by our Constitutional Laws.
The framers of the Declaration did not write their words lightly. They had attempted every avenue of appeal to the King and they had suffered long. They were not merely unhappy with the way things were going in the Colonies; people were dying, murderers were going free, jury trials were being denied.
Someone may come into my house at my invitation but he has no “right” to be there; he has a privilege which can be revoked if he misbehaves. I will give him cake and coffee and seat him in a comfortable chair. I will even tolerate his different opinion on politics, religion and the color of my curtains.
If that person sits too long, gets too comfortable and forgets he is a guest of mine, starts demanding to sit in my chair and eat my cake, insisting he has the right, he has become a coyote.
If only he had asked nicely.