Recent actions by the New Hampshire House of Representatives provide a variety of lessons about the value of persistence, both in the political process and in life. Four years ago, a group of fourth-graders attempted to have the red-tailed hawk designated the official state raptor. Oddly, the effort was derailed by those arguing the hawk was too violent…the state raptor was too violent?
Four years later, as eighth graders, the students returned, and this time succeeded easily. They wore t-shirts with the slogan “Our Second Try to Live Free & Fly,” a take-off on the State motto (“Live Free or Die”), and argued that the hawk was determined, adaptable and shared parental responsibilities. At the same time, the coyote, which to my mind is a predator at least as persistent, and even more adaptable than the hawk, was not so fortunate. Apparently lacking student sponsors, a bill to bar the hunting of coyotes only during pup-rearing season failed to pass.
It is not the animals who have profited most from this experience. The hawks have ample state and federal protection. The coyote has proven over the last century that it can survive, adapt and even flourish without statutory recognition and in the face of determined efforts by humans at eradication. We treasure videos showing coyotes at the Golden Gate Bridge, heading through the fog into the city, and we now have over two dozen living inside San Francisco.
It is the kids who have learned valuable lessons about the quirky legislative processes that govern us. As one student said, the effort “taught us all that we don’t always succeed in getting what we want.” It also taught them that the same perseverance that they honored in the hawk could help them in the legislative process, and one hopes, that the persistence and wiliness of the coyote can overcome the worst that humanity throws at it.