Sounds like the setup for a terrible punchline, doesn’t it?
I just came across an interesting forum post called “Lessons From Geese” and it’s really made me think about both where I’m at in my recovery and where society is heading as a whole. I’ve heard a few people recently say that we’re heading backwards; all this censorship, inequality, terrorism and, even worse, our rights being gradually stolen in the name of anti-terrorism.
But I hope that the awakening I’ve felt happening around me gradually, little by little, for the last few years does take us backwards! I hope we can go back to a time when people looked after their communities; wherever we were when the NHS was set up and British people were proud that their taxes were paying for something that benefited everybody; when we did our shopping with locally owned businesses, with shopkeepers that knew our name and had time for a gossip, and our food was locally sourced and fresh instead of flown halfway around the world. Anyway, speaking of flying, back to the geese!
Lessons from Geese
Fact 1: As each goose flaps its wings it creates an “uplift” for the birds that follow.
By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater range
than if each bird flew alone.
Lesson: People who share a common sense of direction and community can get
where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the
thrust of one another.
Fact 2: When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and
resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into formation to take
advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.
Lesson: If we have as much sense as a goose we stay in formation with those
headed where we want to go. We are willing to accept their help and give
our help to others.
Fact 3: When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another
goose flies to the point position.
Lesson: It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership, as with
geese, people are interdependent on each other’s skill, capabilities and
unique arrangement of gifts, talents or resources.
Fact 4: The geese flying in formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up
Lesson: We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. In groups where there
is encouragement, the productivity is much greater. The power of
encouragement (to stand by one’s heart or core values and encourage the
heart and core of others) is the quality of honking we seek.
Fact 5: When a goose gets sick, wounded or shot down, two geese drop out of
formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay until it dies
or can fly again. Then they launch out with another formation or catch up
with the flock.
Lesson: If we have as much sense as geese, we will stand by each other in difficult
times as well as when we are strong.
Lessons from Geese was transcribed from a speech given by Angeles Arrien at the 1991 Organizational Development Network and is based on the work of Milton Olson
It seems perfectly obvious when you think about it but I, probably like a lot of people, sometimes need the obvious pointing out in order to think about it!
It’s something I’ve seen a lot from doing voluntary work with addicts and going to weekly Smart Recovery meetings. We’re quite often each other’s lifeline. There’s always at least one person in the group that’s struggling and everybody else naturally bouys them up; I do it automatically, without thinking, and then when I am struggling they will support me in return. It comes so naturally to us in recovery to ‘give back’ because we understand our own need for that support and we’re grateful for having recieved the benefits of it. I often think that if SMART, mindfulness and self awareness were taught in schools then the world would be a much nicer place!
Surely this is how the world should work? What comes so naturally to geese and to a lot of individuals in recovery should surely be the system on which our society is based? To look after those that are weaker than ourselves and to have the security of knowing that we, too, will be looked after should it be necessary, should be the foundation of everyday life; we must have understood this as a society at one point, it is what caused the formation of the NHS after all.
So until the world in general, or those running it, comes to its senses, let’s those of us that are self aware enough to know that we should always be looking at who we are as people in order to grow, and understand that we are all a constant work in progress, let’s look after those in our communities that need it, let’s talk to our neighbours and offer our support, let’s smile at people in the street and chat to old ladies waiting for the bus. Keep fighting to change your bit of the world, your community, for the better and show that we won’t submit to being worthless, easily replaced commodities with no individual spirit.
Let’s make the effort to spread positivity and hope that the message eventually spreads to those that haven’t quite got it yet!