Friday, September 24, 2010

the renegade bee

The other morning I got to the goats shed as I usually do, only to find a disconcerting display. The girl goaties had taken it upon themselves to have a debate on who had power over whom. Two girls were bleeding off their forehead, others were chasing one and sniffing it in various places showing battle streaks of red across their noses. I rescued Hermione (Mientje) from two attackers and popped her near the hay feeder while telling the 2 prowlers off. They just looked at me with a bewildered expression. How dare I interfere!

Which me brings me back again to rituals in groups. Goats have a very distinct way of organising their peers. It can be quite brutal to watch, they are not subtle about it. There is a lot of headbutting involved to determine who is the strongest or they go straight for the pouncing approach which is cornering, chomping ears and making the weirdest noises I have ever come accross. The first time I witnessed it I was totally dumbfounded as goats are by nature very social, happy and gentle creatures. So what was all this about?

I reckon humans have similar ways of keeping fellow humans in check. They do not chomp ears and necessarily draw blood, but they sure have methods to ensure the pack does what the alpha leader wants. It's called hierarchy. The question is whether you want to play the game.

There is the possibility of growing past a group's habits and politics. You would become an outsider among the rank of compliers. Your direction would be your own. Naturally this doesn't gel with the existing layout. Least of all it feels pleasant to you as "fitting in" is a tiring exercise. As long as you act like the workerbee the hive will not notice. Once you start acting differently and stop talking like they do, you are on your own. Hierarchy certainly has its purpose, for example in the army or in a cooperative. From a leader's point of view though a renegade workerbee is labelled to be unpredictable and dangerous. If it can be replaced and if you are said bee, watch your back. If you can't be missed and bring too many assets to the table: you have a brownie stockpile and may have more space to rock the boat.

What is the merit of letting fellow goats chomp your ears? If you feel you have to adapt in order to be accepted by your peers and have an easier life then having your ears clipped can be something you take in your stride willingly. However you can decide to seek other renegade bees and join a collective of happy individuals. In my case I'm in the position of having access to both. My ears are in one piece and I intend for them to stay that way. I think it's far more preferable to have a conversation opposed to blood on my head. 

How comfortable is your position?

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