Yesterday morning wasn’t the best I’ve ever had and when life dealt me a pretty cruel twist before daylight had even arrived, I sat shell-shocked at my PC feeling sorry for myself.

But after licking my wounds for a few, I decided that I needed to reclaim the momentum of the day and try to turn it around before it got the better of me.

So, I grabbed the camera (how many of my blogs begin with that phrase?) and headed off to the trails at Circle B. It was a gorgeous Florida day; one that should never be wasted in front of a PC. But particularly on a day like today when an emotional lift was needed.

Though initially battered and bruised, by the time I took the first few steps on the trail, my spirits had already lifted and within a few minutes I was meandering along as though I didn’t have a care in the world.

A couple of hours later, as I returned to the car, I was positively happy. The trails had worked their magic and my step had a distinct bounce in it.

I have attached a number of images at the end of the blog and, whether it was just the day that was in it or the fact that I was there an hour later than I normally am, the shoot turned out to be Osprey-rich.

I love Osprey and always enjoy shooting them. What can’t be captured in photographs though is that they have the sweetest song of almost any bird I know. You can hear them for quite a distance as they call out and for a while, I just stood there taking no pictures and listening. Wondering what they were saying.

Anyway, do be warned that pictures 26 and 27 are quite graphic and shouldn’t be clicked on to enlarge while you are eating lunch. Unless of course, you are eating sushi.

I took a lot of pictures that I didn’t include because of how graphic they were but I left these two in because I wanted the pictures to be able to relate to the subject of my blog today.

Anyway, hope you enjoy!

It was as I was walking back to the car that the subject of the blog formed in my head. I encountered a few people just arriving and they asked if I had managed to see anything worthwhile today so I offered my answer along the lines of how Osprey-rich the trails were this morning. I warned them against the rather brutal aspect of what was happening and the word “cruel” arose in the discussion when I said that Osprey always eat their prey head first.

I pointed out that while indeed it was brutal, it certainly wasn’t cruel because it meant that the fish died quite quickly.

And that was the point that I started to separate the words brutal and cruel in my head.

I often had them grouped together and possibly even occasionally have interchanged them in sentences.

You see, life feels both brutal and cruel at times and we often encounter a barrage of both that leaves us on our knees.

But though brutal is often times the things that beats us up badly, it can in many ways become the pivotal point in our growing experience. When we have been brutalized, it often strengthens us, deepens our resolve, and even educates us on how to cope better next time.

So, brutality because part of our character make-up.

Cruelty rarely has any such benefit and generally just affects our emotional state, leaving us desolate in our moment. When life is cruel to us, we are typically already on our knees and so there is very little to be learned from its barrage or onset.

For a while in my thought process, I began to attribute cruelty as an unlucky or accidental type of damage. And from life, it generally is. Regardless of how we feel at a given moment in time, life isn’t out to get us.

You can become paranoid when it appears to be but frankly that line of thought is stupid. Life isn’t an animate object and even if it was, would it know we even exist? Likely not.

So, is life cruel? Perhaps. But accidentally so.

Then I searched my brain to find out if anything is ever deliberately cruel. I discarded the thought immediately that predators like Osprey are and I even applaud that nature evolved to where their brutality has a distinctly beneficial role on its prey.

Even cats (who I love dearly) may look to be cruel when they play with their prey before killing them. I mean, that looks kind of cruel doesn’t it? But the reality is that their purpose in so doing is to confuse and tire out their prey so that they become easier to kill and eat.

Humans on the other hand have the ability to be cruel without purpose.

Being brutal or damaging to another person or creature is distinctly cruel if we don’t have a specific purpose attached to our actions.

For example, seal culls are extremely brutal and I think they should absolutely be outlawed. But battering these poor creatures to death with baseball bats is done for a purpose and we need to understand that this invalidates the suggestion that it is cruel.

But brutality or abuse without purpose or benefit is something that we are beginning to see more of within our race. Psychologists quickly identify people who engage in such practice as sociopaths and psychopaths and rightly so.

The numbers of these people are growing and their actions becoming more and more evident.

Look at the increase in revenge porn for example. As spurned lovers look to destroy the people they used to be intimate with. There is no benefit to them to do so, only a psychopathic joy in causing another human being pain.

Similarly, as part of your invasion of Ukraine, you have occupied Kherson and proclaimed it a liberated city of valued Russian residents. Then when you lose it, you bomb the shit out of it and destroy the infrastructure that these same people need to stay warm or sustain life. Again on the first view it appears brutal but is in reality cruel.

Human cruelty is an amazing character flaw that is evident on both a local and global level and the growth of such a flaw is synonymous with our devolution into isolated and alienated individuals.

Nationalism and the polarization it causes is one reason. Racism and religious bigotry is yet another. Both allow us to justify actions based on hate rather than benefit and this has been flourishing all over the world in recent decades, after decades more of being dormant.

Hate is a vile tool that is distinctly human and until we begin to tackle it in earnest, we will continually see cruelty to others and to creatures flourishing unrestrained.

It’s a cruel life. It’s a cruel world. These are consolations we often express to brutal moments. But cruelty is neither a part of life nor the world we life in until we introduce it ourselves.

… just a thought!