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“Eagles and Vultures: A vulture in eagle’s feathers.”


“-Vulture: a contemptible person who preys on or exploits others.”

No one would ever mistake a bald eagle for a vulture. The bald eagle is a majestic creature with patriotic stature. It is emblematic of strength, courage, and power. A vulture on the other hand, calls to mind the image of a dirty and disgusting looking creature. A creature that preys on the dying and nature’s leftovers. It is a creature truly worthy of the handle, “buzzard.” 

We think of eagles as hunters, soaring through the sky at great heights. We think of vultures as creatures of opportunity, circling a dying animal and feasting on carrion. There’s no mistaking the two creatures. 

There’s a phrase, perception is reality. We perceive the eagle one way and the vulture another. But let’s look a little closer at the two creatures. Both creatures are exceptional flyers. Both have keen eyesight, with the vulture additionally having a sharp sense of smell.
Did you know that both the eagle and the vulture are classified as birds of prey? Did you know that the bald eagle, like the vulture, are opportunists? That eagles will feast on garbage, dying creatures, and carrion? In fact, in Alaska they so prevalent and serve as nature’s garbage disposal so well that they are referred to as “pigeons.” They may be majestic, but they certainly have some “vulture-like” tendencies. 

What’s the difference between a eagle and a vulture? Maybe not as much as you might think. But perception is reality. 

Just as perception is reality, things aren’t always what they seem. Our criminal justice system sometimes looks at some individuals and classifies them as eagles and others as vultures. Some individuals are given majestic and patriotic feathers and others are viewed as something less flattering. That which is patriotic must be honest? Sometimes. The irony of course being that sometimes, while the two individuals may look entirely different, they may in fact have more in common than we might initially think. Sometimes the “buzzard” really is the individual dressed up like an eagle. If the eagle, generally wearing a uniform and a badge, preys or exploits others, because the ends justifies the means, then are they an eagle or are they the vulture? Preying on the weak makes for a creature of opportunity, does it not? 

Whether dealing for juries or judges, we need to call things what they are and not what they are perceived to be. Looks can be very deceiving. When we reveal the truth, concerning who is the eagle and who is the vulture, there’s no chance of confusing the two.

Franz Borghardt