Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fighting Over What?

Last week I spent a few days on the Sea of Galilee in Tiberias. I was taking a few days of rest in the midst of my trip to the Middle East. I usually do this once per trip. The area is lovely, especially at this time of year. It’s very green and lush and the wild flowers are blooming. It’s a feast for the senses. It is also a very sacred area to me. I just love being there.

My friends and I took bread out from breakfast to feed the fish in the Sea of Galilee. It’s a little ritual that we have.

On this particular trip, the Sea is very low due to lack of rain. It’s actually a big problem in the region right now.

As a result of the sea being so low, the fish weren’t right at the edge of the sea wall like they normally are. When we took our bread out to feed the fish we didn’t see a single one! The birds, however, arrived in droves. Seagulls, pigeons and sparrows all surrounded us and tussled for the goodies that we had.

I observed something that caught my attention. On many occasions, two pigeons would arrive at a lump of bread at the same time and each of them would grab it with their beak. What ensued was a bit of a tug of war. Most of the times one bird or the other would wrestle the bread away from the other bird and take off with it. Winner takes all.

A couple of times, however, something very interesting occurred. The birds would tug back and forth on the bread, and would get increasingly hostile with each other. Suddenly they would both drop the bread and one would chase the other bird and they would continue the battle, leaving the bread by the wayside. Another bird, not involved in the conflict would waddle along and take the spoils of the battle! They got so into the ‘fight’ they forgot (and abandoned) what they were actually fighting for!

What a glorious example of the insanity of fighting and war! How often in human encounters do people get so caught up in defending their position, being right, gaining power and a sense of superiority over another person or group that they literally take their eye of the prize, or forget there was a prize altogether? I think it happens far more than we even realize.

Next time you feel like fighting or arguing about something, remember these birds that left their bread in order to continue picking at each other. Ask yourself if you are being a silly bird? Is it worth it? What do you really want from the situation? Is it likely to be achieved by getting so caught up in the conflict that you can’t even remember what you were fighting for? Is domination and control really a victory?

Don’t be a silly bird. Choose your battles carefully, and stay focused on what you are trying to achieve. Better yet, find a way to resolve your problems without fighting and creating conflict! What a concept!

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