be smart like geese

Be smart, like geese: Ever wondered why birds fly in a V formation?

Be smart, like geese: ever wondered why birds fly in a V formation

Mohammed-Khaku Mohammed Khaku (Allentown, USA) is the past president of Al Ahad Islamic Center in Allentown. He is a Social and criminal justice writer and regularly writes for a number of international publications


hat Lessons Can We Learn from Geese?

Last weekend, as the weather changed here in the Lehigh Valley to spring-like temperatures, I saw my group of geese flying from over backyard together in V-formation and honking. What a lovely sight.

I immediately thought of “Lessons from the Geese”, by the poet written in 1972 by Dr Robert McNeish of Baltimore, Ohio, in the USA.

Not only do geese work on achieving goals together and take collective responsibility, but they also encourage one another by honking during flight!

As a community, we can support each other by pointing out positive actions and lifting one another up, during these uncertain times and challenging times.

No offence to my parent organizations like World Federation, NASIMCO and Africa Federation who spend millions in lawsuits, and play musical chairs during the elections like the Pakistani military and the corrupt Pakistani elected officials.

Organizations and communities should learn lessons of unity. However, unity seems to elude Khojas and Muslims in general and we pay lip service to the concept of unity. Can we not learn from the geese and how they help each other?

Yes, the big test will come on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan as Al Quds Day – the liberation of Palestine.

What we need at our national and regional organization is the young generation. A completely new clean slate of elected officials.

Let me get back to the lesson from the geese. Chesapeake Bay is as far south as geese travel during the harsh winter of Canada and return in spring.

The humans needed to hunt the geese for food, and the geese needed to survive the humans to get back to Canada. It is said the geese could tell the difference between a man with a gun and a man without a gun, and which one was to be feared.

This is only one example of their intelligence. Let us learn the lessons from the flying of geese.

According to Aeronautics experts, V formation creates an uplifting draft for the bird behind it. It has been determined that flying in this V adds more than 70% additional flying time to the flock’s migration.

The leader goose takes quite a beating and once he is tied the whole flock understands this, so they keep rotating a fresh goose into the lead position. Everyone takes a turn.

Leadership should not be a dynasty or exclusive club. It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership.

As with geese, people are interdependent in skills, capabilities, talents, or resources.

The lesson is that people who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are travelling on the thrust of one another with cooperation and teamwork.

When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into the formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.

The lesson is that if we have as much sense as a goose, we stay in formation with those heading where we want to go; we are willing to accept their help and offer our help to the leadership.

If a goose for some reason — injury, sickness, even being wounded by a hunter — should have to fall out of formation and make its way to the ground, two other geese go along with it.

They stay with the distressed goose until it either dies or can fly again. At that point, they take back to the air, join another formation, and eventually catch up with their original flock.

The lesson is that if we have as much sense as geese, we will stand by each other in tough times as well as when we are strong.

I find every bit of this fascinating thing about the flying V of geese is their honking. The sound alone puts a smile on my face — more in spring than in fall because the warm weather is on its way.

Honking actually warms my heart and takes me back to Mombasa when playing soccer and cricket. The honking is cheerleading. When I am at the ceasefire rally in Bethlehem, people honk, It makes me feel good and proud.

The geese are shouting encouragement to each other and particularly to the lead goose. There is a lot of “Go, go, and “Keep flapping, keep flapping.”  

We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. Encouragement increases productivity. The power of encouragement depends on the quantity and the quality of honking.

If the Muslim Ummah were as smart as the geese, we would work off each other’s strengths and get much further ahead in the same direction. It saddens me to see we do not build on this. If only we could learn from the geese!

With Ramadan just around the corner let our hearts be united and cooperation worthy of Ummah in our time of need.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE A SCIENTIST… …To learn from Allah’s marvellous creation; you only need to stop long enough to observe and let Allah reveal His wonders to you.

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