Last week, in my post on the state of our various unions, I included an image of a flock of snow geese. It seemed an appropriate image to illustrate the color and nature of the conformity I saw in one portion of the congressional audience at the State of the Union speech. Since then, I’ve found myself thinking about the nature of the flock as it relates to America’s challenges in this season of our life together.
Humans, like geese, are naturally communal. It is difficult to exist without a web of connection and support. Yes, there are those who build themselves homes in the middle of the wilderness and insist they can survive on their own, but that’s an intentionally anti-communal choice, rather than a natural tendency.
Flocks of birds live together naturally. They have been raised together, understand each other, and can work together to overwhelm or confuse predators. They also understand about sharing resources amongst the flock. During winter, tens of thousands of snow geese flock to Bosque del Apache, where they know food and water are abundant. They don’t sneak away to gather, hide, and hoard precious resources from the rest of the flock. Instead, they share the news and lead the way.
Birds know that abundance, shared amongst the community, will strengthen the entire community and allow the flock to fly farther and faster. They know that all members of their community deserve a chance. Somewhere along the line, however, we lost that critical sense. Once we learned how to fashion homes and barns and locking safes, we began to hoard more than we needed. We lost the sense of putting the community first.
Some would say this is a good thing, and I will freely admit that the mob mentality can be destructive. But the point is that there would be no need for a mob mentality if we still knew how to share equally. If we shared equally, there would be no sense of scarcity, resentment, and anger. There would be no need for guns or walls. There would even be enough food on this planet for everyone.
So, can we return to the flock mentality? Is it a good idea? Those who are positing a guaranteed basic income think so. I’m sure I could find many sources online to both support and refute this idea.
I also know that Jesus says, “love your neighbor as you love yourself.” If you love yourself enough to care for yourself, you have to care for the others in your flock as well. In fact, you have to care for neighbors in other flocks, too—for the simple reason that they are your neighbors. As you can see in the image I chose for today, it is even possible for flocks of different kinds and colors to get along. Why should we not do the same?
How are you called to love your neighbor, your flock, and all flocks today?