The goose story

Published 1:22 pm Thursday, August 31, 2023

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This fall, when you see geese heading south for the winter, flying along in-V formation, you might consider what science has discovered as to why they fly that way: As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in V formation, the whole flock adds at least 71% flying range, than if each bird flew on its own. People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and easily because they are traveling on the thrust of one another. 

When a goose falls out of formation it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front.

If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those who are headed in the same direction as we are. When the head goose gets tired it rotates back in the wing…and another goose flies point. It is sensible to take turns doing demanding jobs…with people or with geese flying south. Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. What do we say when we honk from behind? It’s usually not nice.

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Finally—and this is important—when a goose gets sick, or is wounded by gunshots, and falls out of formation, two other geese fall out with that goose and follow it down to lend help and protection. They stay with the fallen goose until it is able to fly and only then do they launch out on their own, or with another formation to catch up with their group. If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by each other like that.

But, what we have now is a culture that espouses winning, regardless of the cost to others. If that goose is sick, we’d let it die so that the ‘team’ can get back on track and get back to winning. What is really ironic is that many of the winning team members go to church on Sundays and pray for the poor and the homeless, hoping that someone else (another team maybe) will take care of the problem, giving food and shelter to those who have ‘fallen’ and can no longer fly on their own.

It’s easy for me to write and preach about all of this, but solving the problems facing our society is huge, and those problems will not be solved until some of us ‘drop out of formation’ and start figuring out ways to help those who need help. Most of us are working very hard to save and protect land for wildlife, and that’s great; wildlife habitat is very much in danger. But, we also have a responsibility to our fellow man. Surely we can work together, as do the geese, to take care of all life. The reality is that “We either all win, or we all lose.”…geese included.