“Birds of a feather, flock together.”
My mother would say these words and then shake her head in disapproval. As a young girl, I just didn’t get it. Of course geese flock with other geese, and black birds flock with other black birds, the only mixed flock I had ever seen was the finches. And those little singing birds seemed sweet and fun. One time I watched a finch flying around a fir tree. The finch flying pattern looks like an amusement ride. And I swear that the little bird was yelling Woo! Woo! as it flew four times around the tree.
But, my mother’s interpretation of this saying always eluded me until I started to watch people. And instead of flocks I would characterize people in terms of herds. Have you ever gone to a mall just to people watch? Did you notice that there is a certain pace everyone walks, a certain flow to the people as they march around the mall?
And the noise. It reminds me of times I have watched the herds of cows and horses. We are not a quiet species.
But there is another layer to this saying, a more disdainful one. And yes, I had to be almost forty before I really understood what she was saying. You are stained by the people who are associated with you. I noticed that I liked smart, funny people with sharp wits. I like that kind of person as long as their hide is as strong as their tongues.
And actually this can go even further. One of the problems with convicts is that when they finish their debt to society, they eventually go back to associating with other criminals. It leads them back to the same consequences as before. It is probably why they are not allowed to associate with other convicts or criminals during probation.
Now I want to get off the track a little. The military wear uniforms so that they can meld individuals into a cohesive group. And boot camp is for that same purpose. Even after being out of the military since 1994, I still feel a camaraderie with others who have had the same experiences. “Flock together?”
To those who have died in the service of our country, I give my condolences to the families. Memorial day is not for flocking to the car sales or amusements, but it is for remembering those soldiers, sailors, and airmen who died defending our country.
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