The Skirmish on the Tightrope
One morning long ago, when I was a kid, I saw a bunch of Mynah birds on a telephone wire, apparently engaged in some kind of group skirmish. They were loudly chattering away, and pecking at each other with their beaks, and apparently engaged in some kind of wing-to-wing combat. They were so into it that they would fall to the ground still locked in each others’ grip, and roll around on the ground in their struggles for a while, and then fly back up to the telephone wire and continue their struggles, only to fall back down to the ground, still fighting. I got the notion that this was going to give me an easy chance to get a pet mynah bird that morning, so I went under the telephone wire where the battle was taking place, and would wait for them to fall to the ground, where I could grab them with my hands. But those critters can get pretty slippery in human hands – they would writhe and squirm their way free, fly back up to the wire, and continue with their noisy up and down battle. I could not help but think that if I had been a cat with fangs and claws, I would have gotten me an easy breakfast that morning, and that surely that would have been the last battle for some of them. Imagine having your breakfast falling out of the sky, right into your open jaws!
But after a while, the battle came to an end, and all of the birds flew away. I did not get a pet mynah bird that morning, but the memory of that strange little battle on the wires stuck to my mind. Over the years, whenever the memory happened to pop back into my mind, I would often wonder just what it was that those birds had been fighting about.
The Doo-Doo War
Do people get into similar battles? A couple of years after I witnessed the bird fight, I saw a couple of boys fight over something that could not have been much more significant than what those birds had been fighting over. I was in some kind of summer camp for boys, and the campground had a little stream running next to it. Being curious as young boys tend to be, we explored down the stream a little ways, and came to a little makeshift plywood shack that someone had made. It was only big enough for one or two people. We wanted to step inside, but there was a pile of droppings on the floor of it. That ended our little round of exploration, but on the way back, a couple of the boys began to argue over what kind of droppings had been on the floor of the shack. One of them said that they had been dog droppings, while another maintained that the droppings had been produced by a human. This went back and forth for a little while, and finally, the one that claimed the droppings to be dog droppings said to the one who claimed that the droppings were human droppings – “How do you know, did you make it, or what?” And so a fight broke out thereafter.
The Rat Race
Over the years, I’ve witnessed many battles and conflicts among adults over seemingly silly things, often involving the ego. It seems that egotism could be a part of human nature which we have inherited from our animal ancestors. Conflicts over who happens to make more money than who, and yet is younger than the other person. Conflicts over who has more status, has a better life, or is somehow, in some way, just “better” than the other person. Does this somehow turn life into a rat race, where we are all weighed against the norm, chasing after money and the Pie in the Sky? And what happens to those who “fall off the wire” in their battles – do they get eaten up by the hungry cats that wait below? I have heard of people in “high positions of society” who have committed suicide after some misdeed that they had done was brought to light, and they had “fallen from grace”. It seems that we are all caught up in a kind of game of having to keep up appearances in order to look good in front of others.
But underneath it all, when stripped of our thin layer of outwards civility, perhaps we’re all raging DiNosAurs…
FYI: Birds are considered by many scientists to be the descendants of dinosaurs – they could perhaps be called the “modern-day dinosaurs”. Think about that the next time you happen to see a bunch of birdies engaged in a skirmish…
CONTEXTUAL NOTES: Mynah birds are rather common where I live. They are very noisy and extroverted in their behavior!