Break Away From Life’s Pecking Orders

Did you ever realize that humans behave like cooped-up chickens? The most superior bird lords it over all others by pecking at them. Next bird in rank will endure pecking only from the top rooster, while free to attack all inferiors. And so on down the flock to the lowest, most henpecked bird.

As in chicken coops, it’s the same in the military, schools, religion, workplaces and, of course, the Oval Office. Let me offer some old rooster experience from when I was a lowly yardbird, and then moving on up to strutting around as cock of the walk.

In the earliest of my 90-plus years, I always obeyed the strict pecking order rules. As an orphanage kid, for me teachers were top rank, free to control, pile on homework and punish. Next in order among the kids, self-proclaimed leaders could bully, push, hit and steal from lesser and smaller kids.

Just months after I left the orphanage, I joined the Navy. As an 18-year-old recruit during World War 2, I obeyed every command of the instructors, from 5 am wake-ups, five-mile runs to learning how to kill those evil enemy teens. After boot camp, I sat in shipboard gun mounts aimed at those evil young guys. I also swabbed the decks and obeyed all orders of higher-ranking sailors and officers.

After the war and at college for free on the GI Bill of Rights, I rigorously obeyed the professors, deans and all other imperious faculty. I strived for that bachelor’s degree and master’s, so I could apply for a good job and suck up to another group of superior beings.

Apparently it worked, because I aced the interview, was hired, won promotions, bonuses and did 25 years with the same company. Of course, because I was a pro speechwriter, I often glowed in the lofty approval of grossly-overpaid directors and vice presidents.

When sober, they aped my stirring words on stage and video at conferences and business meetings. Because of my brilliant words, they earned themselves even higher rank in the company. I was jealous as hell, but still studiously obeyed the pecking order rule.

I finally escaped the chicken coop culture when I retired. With my spouse we live today, relax and travel without asking permission. We don’t wait in line for some higher being’s approval, except at airport check-ins and genital inspections, of course.

When you experience that same moment of retirement freedom, I hope you’ll be able to roam the world at the top of the pecking order. And enjoy it without some imperious cock of the walk (or cackling hen) ordering you around.

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