Lessons from seagulls

Last updated 05:00 07/10/2012
LESSONS FROM GULLS: Jolly Jacob can't help but recognise human traits in hungry seagulls.

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It is Saturday and hubby and I are engaged in shopping. We take a break at lunchtime and are sitting on a bench on Petone beach eating hot chips. Soon we are joined by a lone seagull, orange beak, orange feet and orange-lined eyes.

Hubby throws bits of chips at him and the gull merrily gorges on junk food. We wonder about the fact that he does not even utter a squawk to signal to his gull mates that there is food available. But soon another seagull joins us and then the fun begins.

Gull-1 undergoes a transformation. He starts squawking hoarsely and runs after Gull-2, pointed beak open, trying to run him off.

Now, Gull-2 is a smart fellow, he strategically retreats behind the bench where he is content with the bits that hubby throws backwards occasionally. But Gull-1’s squawks have attracted others of his kind and soon we have a happy crowd of about 10-12 gulls, some of these, we notice, have black feet, beak and kohl-lined eyes.

Owing to the fact that these black-eyed beauties are hovering on the fringes, and are smaller in size than the more flamboyant orange eyed-lined fellas, we conclude that the former must be the females.

Gull-1 is now really busy because more gulls are arriving by the minute and he is spending so much time squawking after them and chasing them that he has ceased to notice that bits of food are still available.

Meanwhile the newcomers manage to snatch up the food which he has ignored, probably with the mistaken belief that he can run all the others off the beach and be the only partaker of the food. Gull-2 at the back has also established his territory and is valiantly defending his turf.

I cannot help but think that this is precisely how humans behave too. We are so busy fighting over land and territory that the basic needs of our people get forgotten.

There are some countries that probably spend more of their GDP in defence expenditure than in providing food and basic amenities to their people.

Even though we know that there are enough resources to feed the whole world, some of us are intent on cornering most of it in a concerted attempt to have more of more, totally disregarding the fact that in the process others are getting less of less.

When the US went to war in Iraq, they increased their defence budget and guess where the money came from? Some of it came from social welfare, elderly care and basic medical care. They actually cut back spending on these areas.

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It is sad to think that we are not so highly evolved after all.

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