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In pursuit of productive and happy chickens

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I recently received a new batch of baby chicks. One of the things that I find intriguing about the chicks is how soon they establish a pecking order. They will bump their chests together to show dominance within their first weeks. Even without an adult chicken to encourage this trait, they establish a hierarchy on their own.

We humans also show this innate tendency. We tend to seek dominance in a dizzying array of options. Gender, religion, race, ethnicity, job classification, slavery, serfdom, wealth, aggression and a myriad of other distinctions are purposefully selected — or selected for us — for positioning ourselves for our supposed optimal well-being.

However, over time we have also cultivated a level of self-awareness that has evolved into social standards that include equality of opportunity as a path to optimal well-being. Some religions have been influential in such standards as expressed in “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Indeed, our nation’s founders and our constitution articulate equality as a cornerstone principle of how we organize ourselves.

But this is not easy. We readily resort to a primitive instinct of self-preservation and ally ourselves to establish a pecking order that benefits us. What causes this?

A principle driver can come (in the case of chickens) from the rooster. A mad rooster that creates a reign of terror by extreme aggression and domination does not just cause cowering deference from the chickens, but can cause debilitating stress among the chickens.

Aggression, along with fear, triggers the “fight or flight” stress areas in our brains — just like in chickens. The last thing we humans need is a rooster/leader that crows morning to night in order to trigger our stress centers by fostering divisions among us or conjuring up scary bogeymen to alarm us.

Having a leader that endorses bullying tactics to address the recent protests over yet another egregious act based on seeing persons as “others” is detrimental to everyone. A leader who was selected to help foster our well-being should try to heal us when we are stressed.

We sadly have a leader that even General Jim Mattis had to call out as a divider. This is the same General Mattis who declined to speak out earlier against our leader when he left his position of Secretary of Defense rather than endorse a policy of abandoning our Kurdish allies.

How does a disciplined person of strong integrity like Mattis who strives to be apolitical get to this point?

I suggest that there has been an accumulation of causes. The threatened use of the military to police and intimidate the nation’s citizens, the gassing of peaceful demonstrators, the abandonment of strategic alliances and treaties, an inept response to the pandemic resulting in thousands of unnecessary deaths, abuses of power for political advantage, and many others can add up. Possibly the incessant lying and unabashed self-embellishment to the detriment of others, both trivial and consequential, finally has exhausted persons of character such as Mattis – a person who undoubtedly felt he could help his country by being an “adult in the room.” Let’s recognize that this

Let’s recognize that this country is in a serious state of disarray as a result of a “mad rooster.” If we want to see productive and happy chickens, this “rooster” has to go!