There are a pair of Red Kites that circle the skies outside my window. They flit in and out of view throughout the day, flashing their red at me, rolling in and out of air currents splendiferously. Home is where the Red Kites roll, and rock, and roll again.
Thirty years ago they were a rare sight. Mistakes were made. Misunderstandings. It was believed that Kites killed young livestock and other birds and animals. In the 19th Century Gamekeepers and Farmers wiped them from the skies. The Kites disappeared from England and Scotland. Their last UK refuge was here, in the oak trees of Wales. So few. So vulnerable.
Misunderstandings, because Kites are primarily carrion feeders, tidiers, not killers.
Misunderstanding is always damaging. The kindest of motivations – protecting a newborn lamb – can lead to the most monstrous of actions – removing a gentle beauty from the world.
Autism is often misunderstood. It’s the scary monster. Something that creeps from behind the curtains and steals your child away. It’s the changeling, the bogeyman, the night terror. Something to be exterminated, defeated, removed.
To protect the innocent child you vilify the autism.
Misunderstanding that the autism is the child. The child is the autism. You cannot defeat one without defeating the other. When you benefit from one, you’re benefiting from the other.
Understanding, such a soft and undulating word.
Awareness, all visible and sharp. Understanding, all layered and deep.
My world is made better by the flight of the Kites. My Phoenix, rising from its fire of misunderstanding. Returning from the brink, triumphant.
People’s capacity for knee jerk reactions is surpassed only by their capacity to learn and develop. People who knew the truth of the Kites fought to educate, they fought for laws to protect the vulnerable, they fought for understanding, and now the population is thriving.
As long as the Kites are flying, so is my hope. We can learn. We can protect. We can understand.