First published in Blog TheNews : http://blogs.thenews.com.pk/blogs/2011/12/22/of-unity-faith-and-discipline/
One evening, the perpetual sad news on the television of sectarian killings, petty politics, poverty and floods overwhelmed me and made me feel a little nauseated.
To get fresh air, I walked outside in the lawn, only to see a threesome of geese sitting beside a bird feeder. One was limping with injury, while the other two were flapping their wings to encircle the injured.
Dejected with being human, I pondered, how the free birds, travelled 4500 miles every year from Europe to Central Asia, flying over mountain ranges to arrive in the marshes of the subcontinent for the winter.
Their honks reminded me of a research which found that these geese migrate thousands of miles as one flock, in a ‘V’ formation. If any bird falls sick or is injured, two geese fall out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it till it is able to fly or is dead. When the geese if healthy enough to fly, they launch out on their own formation until they catch up with their group.
“I wish I was one of you.” I muttered.
“Why?” asked one. “Aren’t you the most intelligent species created by God?”
Surprised I answered “Yes, but I love the way you creatures fly miles and miles, as free birds, with no passports, visas or expensive tickets. And no one is there to stop you at the borders.”
With a twinkle in its eye, the geese answered “Yes indeed. But do you know how do we succeed in braving such distances?”
I replied “Yes, you fly in flocks united as one group, in a V-formation.”
As I spelt the word united, my heart sank at the disunity that we display when we quarrel because of religious, sectarian and ethnic differences, instead of staying united in a flock as Pakistanis.
“Yes, unity and discipline are the foundation with which we brave through our arduous journey from Siberia to South Asia” declared another.
I wondered how the traveling in ‘V’ formation offered discipline.
The witty goose answered my concern by explaining, “Staying organised in a V gives us strength. The bird ahead flaps his wings to reduce the air resistance and gives a lift to the next behind it. Subsequently it gets passed on to the whole flock. And this way we are able to add a 75% greater flying range.”
“But you let the one at the front do the most labour by flapping its wing through the air resistance. How inhuman?” I retorted.
“You call this inhuman? Being cruel is so ‘human’ I would say”, the goose snapped back.
I knew the goose was right.
“Not only do we stay united and disciplined, we keep our faith in whoever our leader is. Our leader leads with hard work and the ones behind follow him with complete faith. Those at the extreme back keep honking all through the journey. Have you ever experienced how energising it is when someone gives you support from behind? It synergises one’s capacity far beyond one’s capability.”
This confused me. What was this faith the goose spoke about?
“Faith isn’t just the excuse for which you humans kill one another. It is a mutual faith between our leader and rest of the flock. It is this trio of unity, discipline and faith that enables us to brave harsh weather, sometimes even lack of food on our long journey” remarked the goose.
“Do you know this Unity, Discipline and Faith that you follow along the 4500 km journey, was actually a slogan given by our Founding Father?” I bragged.
All the bird heads turned at me in shock, and after a long silent pause one of them remarked:
“Oh, so you humans have heard of unity, faith and discipline?”
And with that exclamation, all three of them flew up in the sky, in a small V formation, perhaps for their final destination, further east.
As they went out of sight, so did the poignant lesson they had taught me. Why would I learn from pea brained geese?
After all I am the most intelligent species on Earth. Isn’t that what the geese had said in the first place?