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The Hummingbird

I had a college roommate who possessed good looks and charisma. He exuded passion.

In college he felt that taxes were unconstitutional because he believed the government had been taken over by a ruthless organization which was in turn controlled by a group of powerful industrialists. These industrialists used kings and presidents for pawns. You and I were helpless; already the battle was lost.

As the years rolled by, my friend became increasingly alarmed about the collapse of democracy throughout our nation.

Some women he dated became increasingly bored with his rhetoric. A few (who worked for the government) became annoyed with him.

Just misunderstood.

In our hearts, my wife and I suspected if the women could have just hung in for a few more dates they would have discovered a terrific guy.

Once you got my friend “out of politics,” it was easy to see that he loved children and was kind, generous and funny. But getting him “out of politics” was more difficult than nailing a snowball to a stove.

Conspiracy theories were his narcotic and he developed a wild-eyed look, common to religious zealots.

When political passion fully seizes your thoughts and you come to believe God is on your side, things usually get out of hand.

Faced with arrest or paying his taxes, my friend opted to take on the legal system to prove once and for all that he was right.

Had he lowered his head and mumbled an apology, the court might have let him off with a stern warning, but alas, my friend explained to the judge that the judge himself was a dupe of a malevolent organization that had taken over the world.

My friend was sentenced to prison for several years and when he was released he was more convinced than ever that he was right about the evils of our political system.

He railed against the system that had taken his freedom. His old girlfriends gave him a wide berth. The women of the 90s did not want to hear about medieval cartels that now ensnared humankind. They wanted to hear stock market reports, Martha Stewart or the fact that they looked terrific in new dresses.

Then a small miracle happened. My friend called to say he wanted to bring Humberta by to meet my wife and me. We were delighted.

Humberta was frail and not too well. My friend had been looking after her for two weeks. Nothing was too good for Humberta and my friend did everything for her.

She sat on his lap as he talked, and she hardly uttered a peep. She seemed spellbound by my friend’s every word. So were my wife and I, for this was the first time we had ever heard him speak for more than three minutes without introducing the latest conspiracy theory along with out-of-focus snapshots into our conversation.

Finally, I thought, my friend has found someone he cares about, and in caring about another being, my friend had turned into a great guy. I figured that even if he started to rant about conspiracy theories, Humberta would forgive him.

Parting is such sorrow.

Humberta, however, did not look well. A few days later, my friend called to say that Humberta had died. He started to explain how this country was actually a cell within the United Nations. Soon all farmland would be communal. All part of an insidious plot to redistribute the wealth to enslave.

After our goodbye, I thought about Humberta and what magic she worked on my friend. Without saying a word she had rescued him from himself. And he really cared about her. How tragic they could not save each other.

All of which may go to prove that fanatics are almost as hard to rescue as baby hummingbirds named Humberta.

By the way, here is how to rescue a hummingbird.

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