Pecking Order


We have chickens. Every year or so, we add to the flock. Despite the conversations I have with the old guard before the newcomers arrive, there is alway an adjustment period we just have to go through. It’s not comfortable. Not for them. And certainly not for me as I listen to their calls of alarm and indignation over being put together with a group they don’t know.

This week it occurred to me how like them we are as humans. We get used to who we are with and how things are. We establish our pecking orders, and we insist upon knowing who is on the top and who is on the bottom. And we can get so territorial, even violent, when that order gets disrupted. So defensive, afraid and combative of the ‘other.’ So willing to make the ‘other’ wrong, even evil and dangerous.

So even though I remind the chickens who are here now that they were once the newcomers, once the ones who were being pushed out and maybe even attacked, they don’t remember. It always surprises me that they do not remember what it felt like to be low man on the totem pole. To feel like you’re not welcome. To know that a group would rather see you go than stay. To know that others might feel justified in harming you to stake their claim.

Or maybe they do remember, but they are not willing to give up their position of power.

Either way, is this not what is happening to us more and more now? All of the ways that the various groups that were trodden upon and disrespected, and who are now¬†gaining power of their own, are themselves going on to demonize and ‘other’ the dominant group. Maybe you would say the oppressor groups deserve it, or that it is only natural to do what was done to you when you get to be the one on top.


But I say, there has got to be a way for all of us to live with full status while we iron out the wrongs of the past, without going on to repeat them to someone else. Without rearranging the pecking order of who is now oppressor and who is now oppressed.

P.S. After less than a week, the two flocks have already begun their steady course towards blending; going from separation and attack to unity and harmony. And we think we’re the intelligent ones.

(And if you’d like a practice that moves you closer to unity with All…Every morning I burn a bit of sage before practice and say…May whatever keeps me from being in harmony with the life within and the life without, be cleared from me.)