Kierkegaard's Parable of the Geese

My therapist shared this story with me the other day - she thought it dealt really well with one of the frustrations that I've had in the past as a community activist, and...

...yes. It totally does. And it's worth passing on:




A certain flock of geese lived together in a barnyard with high walls around it. Because the corn was good and the barnyard was secure, these geese would never take a risk. One day a philosopher goose came among them. He was a very good philosopher and every week they listened quietly and attentively to his learned discourses. 'My fellow travelers on the way of life,' he would say, 'can you seriously imagine that this barnyard, with great high walls around it, is all there is to existence?

'I tell you, there is another and a greater world outside, a world of which we are only dimly aware. Our forefathers knew of this outside world. For did they not stretch their wings and fly across the trackless wastes of desert and ocean, of green valley and wooded hill? But alas, here we remain in this barnyard, our wings folded and tucked into our sides, as we are content to puddle in the mud, never lifting our eyes to the heavens which should be our home.
The geese thought this was very fine lecturing. 'How poetical,' they thought. 'How profoundly existential. What a flawless summary of the mystery of existence.' Often the philosopher spoke of the advantages of flight, calling on the geese to be what they were. After all, they had wings, he pointed out. What were wings for, but to fly with? Often he reflected on the beauty and the wonder of life outside the barnyard, and the freedom of the skies.
And every week the geese were uplifted, inspired, moved by the philosopher's message. They hung on his every word. They devoted hours, weeks, months to a thoroughgoing analysis and critical evaluation of his doctrines. They produced learned treatises on the ethical and spiritual implications of flight. All this they did. But one thing they never did. They did not fly! For the corn was good, and the barnyard was secure!

I feel like the town I live in is full of people who want to talk about doing things, and have meetings about the great things that could and should be done, and then have meetings about meetings, and then pat each other on the back because they had such a successful meeting.

And then there is another group of these really excited, energetic, enthusiastic people over here who are like, "ok, so we had the meeting, we know what to do, we can see how great it is to fly - let's fly!"

But the older geese don't want to fly, because how it's always been done, is that we don't fly. But we should talk about flying. And we should schedule a meeting about it.

And while they whither away in yet another meeting, complimenting each other on the size of their wings, the other geese will eventually decide to fly away ...to a new lake...a new barnyard...the sky above...to a place where the other geese aren't afraid to take the risk....so that they can all fly.







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