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What can we learn from nature, to be and live as communities?

During such times, it is being able to access the outside, from the inside, that keeps my spirits lifted. I have been taking pictures of the marine bird communities over the last one week from my window. Some are migratory, and some are local. I am not a photographer. Most times I tend to observe with naked eyes, and just absorb, and do not like any digital gadgets. Strangely, in times like this, it has given me joy, to capture some photographs, and I share them with you. 

In the photos, are the black-headed sea-gulls (large community, sitting like a white flower bed or floating in the water like ducks); the black-tailed godwits (the ones with sharp long beaks); the five black cormorants riding the grey-brown waves; and the Egrets (the white, zen-like creatures). The last picture is a stock image, to show how marine shore birds have different beak shapes, to access different resources in the same area.

All of them feed together in the same marshy area during low tides, and one would think there is a competition for resources. Yet I always find them feeding in immense harmony, together. There are two reasons why they are able to feed as communities, in such a cooperative manner:

  • Finding safety & security in being together: By staying together, they alert each other in case of predators. One alarm call is sufficient for all the birds to come together and flock away. And from the predator’s perspective, the chances of attack are slim when it sees them together. A clear win-win, when they feed together.
  • Different beak sizes: A deeper observation reveals that nature has designed them to each be unique. Though it appears like they are all competing for the same food source, they sort themselves out and feed in the areas where they can reach their prey with their beak shapes. (Refer to the stock image I have of how differently beaks are designed). It is very fascinating. So, with their unique gift (beak shape), they keep the balance in their food web.

What can we learn from this as a community?

  • By staying together, the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Each of us would find it very challenging to go through this global pandemic alone. For almost all of us, it is our first time in our lives. We have no reference. But by staying together, looking out for each other, creating a safety net, we are able to nourish our immune system. This collective wellness consciousness, hopefully keeps the predator at bay.
  • Even though we are a community, we each occupy our own niche/s – we are each unique, we possess skills that might be unique, we speak and share in ways that are different. Some in our communities do so silently, listening and learning. Some do so by participating, sharing and learning. All are welcome.

Dr. Vijaya Venkat, founder of The Health Awareness Centre, always reminded us how incredible it is, that for all the billions and billions of people who have come before us, and for all the seven billion who occupy the earth right now, we are each born with our own unique fingerprint. No two living beings have shared/share/will share the same fingerprint/thumbprint.

In watching communities in nature, we learn that by adhering to simple rules; by aligning to natural laws; and by giving and receiving from our unique selves, we can create beautiful win-win relationships, and understand how to be and live in/as communities.

Image courtesy for beak shapes: btnebirds.org (you can go check out beak shapes of birds in the above pics. It can be a fun activity)

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