Thursday, July 28, 2016

lessons about status I have learned from geese

1. There is a flock of geese that reside at a particular spot in my running path. Or, rather, I could say that I usually go on a run right through a geese family's front lawn. It's all about perspective. From their perspective, I am an annoyance, an intrusion, and a daily reminder their safety is an illusion.

2. Be that as it may, I encounter an impassable flock of geese each time I run. If I do not have my dog with me, I have to turn around, for they are many in number, and they are unafraid of me. They are afraid, mostly, of my dog. But not of me.

3. This most recent time we ran towards them, the geese did not move for a very long time. They stared at my dog and me running towards them and did not move. Perhaps they are learning this routine of ours: the run through their front yard, and leave, and no one is the worse for wear. Perhaps they are become habituated to us.

4. This, for some reason, irked me. As my dog moved towards the geese, I goaded him on: get 'em, Pippin!

5. I am not a violent person. One time, my dog brought an injured bunny to our back door as a gift, and I tended to the bunny, crying.

6. For some reason, seeing these complacent geese, totally unafraid of me, brought out some violent streak in me.

7. For I am human, and they are bird, therefore they ought to fear me. I am larger than they are. I am predator, they are prey. They ought to be afraid of me, and to get out of my way when I am running at them, or at least let me pass, instead of hissing and snapping at me, and making me afraid.

8. I am upset at not being at the top of the pecking order, and therefore, I want to see violence done to these geese (mediated by my dog), because I am furious that they--my natural inferior--have power over me. I want them to learn their lesson, and to fear me once again.

9. I am afraid of them. I, human, am afraid of those geese, avian.

10. Surprised at--and disturbed by, disgusted by-- the unusual desire for violence that popped up inside of me, I pondered what those geese have taught me by upsetting the food chain cart.

11. I wonder, if we are people used to status, used to defining ourselves by who we are above and who we are below, but mostly by who we are above, are we, too not more prone to violence? If we become too invested in our status, then we become more prone to violence that keeps those below us afraid of us, in their place. Those of us in positions of power, of privilege, are afraid of losing our status, because we do not love those below us on the social totem pole--we are afraid of them. We are afraid of what they can do when they have power over us. We cannot imagine them treating us any way other than how we treat them. We cannot see how the world would look, free from the logic of fear and power that we place on it.

12. Violence, status, power: these are all woes that result from a lack of empathy and love, and ultimately, from a lack of imagination. We cannot imagine a social order free from a pecking order.

13. If we were to live with the ascetic discipline of constantly reverencing the otherness of our brothers and sisters, even the most lowly and avian among them, we would, perhaps, find a way of living that is more beautiful, less violent, and free from the fear that plagues us.

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