What It Means To Be 'In This Together'
“We’re in this together.” It’s a phrase we often hear, especially this last year. However, when you look at the facts, at the social and economic disparities between neighbourhoods, ‘In This Together’ is often little more than words. For the true meaning, look to Canada geese.
Drifting through the sky in their signature V-formation, Canada geese are often hailed as a symbol of the Canadian wilderness, marking the change of seasons with their southern migration each winter and return every spring.
While some regard the big, black-necked birds as somewhat of a nuisance—swarming public grounds, scattering their droppings across parks and honking aggressively to those who come to close—those who look a little closer, will understand they are undoubtedly fascinating creatures. In fact, there are many lessons we can learn from the fiercely loyal bird about how to care for one another and in turn, be a part of a stronger, happier, and more successful flock.
Flying Further Together
Geese have discovered that they can reach their destination more quickly and with less energy expended when they fly together in formation. Each bird, as it flaps its wings, is creating lift for their fellow birds behind them, allowing them to fly further with less effort. Scientists estimate that the whole flock can fly about 70% farther with the same amount of energy than if each goose flew alone.
When a goose drops out of the V-formation it quickly discovers that it requires a great deal more effort and energy to fly. As a result, that goose will quickly return to the formation to take advantage of the lifting power that comes from flying together.
We can all lift each other up and help each other succeed. When people work together, sharing common values and a common destination, they will arrive at the destination quicker and easier, because they are lifted up by the energy and enthusiasm of one another.
Support Each Other When Times are Tough
Scientists discovered that when one goose becomes ill, is shot or injured, and drops out of the formation, two other geese will fall out of formation and remain with the weakened goose. They will stay with and protect the injured goose from predators until it is able to fly again or dies. When they head back out, they work together to catch up with the rest of the flock.
Canada Geese also readily adopt young geese, known as goslings, who are lost or orphaned ensuring that they are fed, protected, and cared for.
When one person experiences difficulties and is faced with barriers, it is important to reach out, support and care for them. We all need to look after one another.
Take Turns Leading
Due to the lift created in the V-formation, there is no one creating any lift for the front goose. This leadership position can get tiring and exhaust even for the strongest lead goose. To help avoid fatigue, the position of front goose rotates between all members of the flock. This rotation of position happens many times in the course of the long journey to warmer climates.
Everyone should have the opportunity to serve both as a leader of a group and a follower. We all have unique set of skills and experience and we can all teach one another valuable lessons if we are given the opportunity. Learn from all those around you.
Encourage Each Other
Geese can be heard honking loudly while they fly. Scientists speculate that this honking is a way to communicate with and encourage the flock on their long flights. The geese in behind honk at the ones in the front, to encourage them to maintain their speed and keep flying towards their goal.
Being engaged, encouraging and supportive to those around you will lead to success and happiness. We can achieve more when we have the love and support of the people around us.
Canada Geese mate for life – unlike many other species they are loyal to a single mate with whom they share the parenting and flock protection responsibilities. They are also loyal to their extended family and community, traveling together as they return to the same nesting grounds year after year.
Geese live in harmony with other species (e.g., ducks, coots, moor hens, cormorants) and, when threatened by predators, they will all attack together.
We are all in this together. When we start supporting and caring for those around us, we become stronger.