Chickens lay; people lie

Published 8:00 am Thursday, January 26, 2023

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My mother was an English major in college, so this was her immediate response when one of us children would use either “lay” or “lie” incorrectly. Because of that, I learned when and where to use these two words correctly.

But my mother was not always right about other things. She told me that chickens are stupid, but people are smart. The longer I live, the more I’m inclined to think just the opposite. Recent studies have shown that chickens can actually count, manipulate and problem solve, and have feelings and empathy. 

Chickens are just as emotionally and socially complex as most other birds and mammals in many areas. Chickens can even outsmart humans at an early age. The self-control chickens display is not found in children until the age of four. And the fact that chickens can make logical inferences is also most impressive, especially considering the fact that children do not have the capacity for this sort of thinking until at least the age of seven. Now, I will concede that some of these numbers are all relative to life expectancy: a 6-month-old chicken is 13 years old in human years and 1-year-old chicken is 19 years old in human years.

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Now, what got me on to this chicken thinking? It has to do with the latter part of the title – people lie. Chickens lay eggs, eat vegetable peels, grains, worms and bugs, and basically promote life with their life. We do the opposite and we keep doing it with our lies.

Here’s the occasion that brought my thoughts down this rabbit hole: I was at a meeting where coffee and snacks were served to the attendees. Since I was the last one there (as usual) there was only about a tablespoon of coffee left. The hostess chimed in that she was going to buy a Keurig single-serve coffee maker so we’d never run out of coffee again. 

I mentioned the fact that Keurig makers produce lots of unnecessary waste, to which she replied that the little cups are recyclable. That sent my mind down the rabbit hole.

Why would we buy a new machine like that? Answer: for convenience. Would it be convenient to dump out and rinse each one of those cups (in the garden or in the trash) and then recycle them, assuming that the garbage people actually recycle these days, or would it be more convenient to simply pour another cup of water through the coffee grounds in one of those old percolators? Add to this the fact that we have to buy a “new, better, more convenient”  coffee maker that cost us money, money for which we had to work. 

At the meeting, I had to be quiet after being told about how much smarter it would be to have one of those new single-serve coffee makers. I was hearing the exact same ‘marketing’ spun by the producers of that appliance. People lie! And the more money there is to be made, the more crafty are those lies!

A few days later I was talking with a local man who does heating and de-humidifier work in homes. His comment hit a button: In the past 50 years, we have created many problems because we did not realize how good we had it. We had storm windows to retain heat in the winter; then we could open those windows in the warm weather and breath fresh air. We had ceiling fans to circulate the air. We did not need expensive de-humidifiers because the fresh air did the job for us. 

Then we started building homes and schools with windows that do not open, which means that either the heat or the air conditioning must be on 95% of the time. All of this causes pollution, so we try to recycle when we can while knowing that we are polluting the earth to a point of no return. And why? Because it’s easier to believe the lies than it is to think for ourselves. We live in an age of “instant gratification” – and many cannot think in terms of the big picture. People lie, and the biggest liars are those who are making the money. 

Our children and grandchildren will pay the price.