Saturday, 7 December 2013

Birds of a Feather Flock Together

Birds of a Feather Flock Together - Image courtesy of JeeYoung Lee

Folklore has it that, long long ago, all living beings spoke the same language. 

(Of course, this was all long before mankind and animals and birds went their separate ways and conjured up their own secret tongues so as to keep from each other what they really thought about the other and what they planned to inflict upon each other.) 

But back when everyone understood each other, and the world was in peace and harmony, it was the ravens that were mankind’s trusted messengers. Not the pigeons. The use of pigeons to ferry messages across mountains and seas was a romantic notion that took root much later. 

The bearer of messages has a very important role to play. 
His is a task that requires much wit, deep awareness, the ability to make complex decisions in the face of danger, bravery so as to not allow any private messages to be intercepted, and enough empathy so as to be able to express joy when the message is a happy one and dignified solemnity when the news to be conveyed in tragic. 
These were the qualities in ravens that made them aptly suitable for the job.

Above all, what set the ravens apart from other living beings was the speed and efficiency they exhibited in transmitting messages, thanks to their knowledge of the shortest routes and paths, which enabled them to travel as the crow flies. 

Of course it helped that the ravens were found in abundance - in the jungles, on the streets, on treetops, in people’s backyards, in their gardens, on their windowsills eating breadcrumbs, and sometimes inside their kitchens if no one was looking.

Our big, black birds found it offensive to have rolls of paper tethered to their claws. They preferred, instead, to have the addressor tell them the message, which they were then happy to repeat to the recipient. As I said, this was back in the times when all living beings spoke the same tongue. So this did not pose any problem at first, and the message creators and receivers were only too happy with this arrangement, as were the ravens who were politely treated to goodies every time they received or imparted a message. 

All the trouble started when the ravens started to contort the messages. At first it was harmless distortion, and some of the misrepresentations were in fact very funny to begin with, created out of boredom and the overall monotonous nature of their work and lives. But then the ravens took to telling tales and lies, and in no time untruths and falsifications were being transmitted back and forth until eventually mankind declared war on the animals over a simple misunderstanding and the world was engulfed in several decades of violence and mayhem.

Did you know? 
One of the collective nouns for a group of ravens is a storytelling of ravens.

At another period of time, when pigeons began to rise to the fore as messengers of love, the ravens took to stealing the pigeons’ eggs out of spite. They, the ravens, reckoned that if they could stymie the growth in pigeon population, the ravens would regain what they considered their rightful place as trustworthy and reliable messengers of the living world. It did not take long for the rest of the world to figure out what the ravens were up to, which only made pigeons more popular than before.

Did you know?
One of the collective nouns for a group of ravens is an unkindness of ravens. 

Before long, mankind learned not to trust anybody but his own clan and started to deliver messages by hand. 

Did you know?
One of the collective nouns for a group of ravens is a nevermore of ravens. 

Enraged by the ‘disrespect’ they perceived, the ravens took to ambushing human messengers whenever the latter had to travel through thick jungles and forests. Clad in shockingly black feathers, the ravens were indiscernible from the thick blackness of the night; so no one could ever tell who was responsible for the attacks.

Did you know?
One of the collective nouns for a group of ravens is a conspiracy of ravens. 

So as to not lose any more of his brothers and sisters, mankind developed advanced technologies that would obey his command and do no more or no less than instructed to. This involved the erection of transmission poles and wires to dispatch messages in the form of invisible little pieces of information strung together by invisible threads of … well, invisible stuff.

The ravens, helpless when confronted with things they had little clue about, then took to sitting on telephone wires yelling blue murder, crowing and cawing about the unfairness of it all, but with little action to back up their claims. Everyone ignores them, and now no one understands anymore what the ravens cry about perched above the world and dumping turd on unsuspecting passersby.

Did you know?
One of the collective nouns for a group of ravens is a parliament of ravens.

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