Wednesday, December 20, 2006


This beautiful photograph from Reuters show a bird happily pecking persimmons amidst the winter snow in Seoul. Pecking in this instance has a positive outcome and harms nothing: it feeds the bird who then spreads the seeds so that future generations of persimmons will thrive.

Among caged chickens, pecking is used for feeding but it is also used to maintain a strict hierarchy. Each chicken is able to peck all those below it. For those unfortunates near the bottom of the hierarchy this can even lead to death.

Pecking among humans is also very common, almost universal. Occasionally it is good natured but mostly it is hierarchical, malicious and destructive. Its intent is to wound, to pull down, even to destroy anyone who dares to challenge the established tribal order or to raise disturbing issues.

Ironically, unlike hens, humans engaging in this disgusting, small-minded activity have many ways to rationalise their pathetic behaviour. They always attribute wonderful humanitarian or intellectual motives to themselves while they enthusiastically preen each other's feathers and take turns to peck the offender until the blood runs. Then, after they've finished, they pretend that they did nothing untoward. Hypocrisy doesn't bother them at all!

If people can't rise above the cruel primitiveness of domesticated fowl it suggests there is not much hope for the human race.