Friday, November 13, 2009

Pecking order

In my late adolescent and early teenage years we moved frequently from small town to small town since my father bid in a succession of railway jobs to gradually increase his income. Each time we moved, after a few weeks settling in, it was customary for a boy of roughly my age to wrestle (pronounced rassle) with me to establish where, in the pecking order of boys, I fitted. It had something of a ritual and was an invariable consequence of each move. It was never angry and once over was not repeated. I accepted where I was in the hierarchical structure and, as a result, adapted relatively easily . This establishment of hierachical placement , though primitive in adolescent boys, is widely applicable in societies structures generally. If I join the golf club or the faculty club in Lotus City, there is a "hydrant sniffing activity" that both preceeds and follows admission. Some free spirits may have a problem being sniffed out, but in fact the Free Spirit club will also perform it's own due diligence and classify its newly arrived members as it will. Much of this is surreptitious in the adult world. If, however, you have never seen the enactment of the "wounded chicken syndrome" in the chicken coop, you will be thunderstruck at the barbarity of the attack on the vulnerable. This is a pecking order in spades. Civilization, for what it's worth, has softened the pecking order. The "wounded chicken syndrome" is still around, not so overtly violent, but let's not kid ourselves! I happens less! Thank God for small mercies.

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