Pecking Parties

When I was a child, my father had about 600 chickens that he kept so that he could sell their eggs. They were not free range, but caged in pairs. When he was a child, his family had chickens free around their home. There were places built for them to roost, where their eggs could be gathered, but they were free to find food wherever they could.

One thing he told me was an advantage to having them in small groups in cages was the prevention of “pecking parties.” These could kill almost an entire yard flock of birds. They happened when one bird saw a bit of blood on another bird, which could happen as two birds struggled over a bug or other food.

Nearby chickens, seeing the blood, would peck at it, making the injury worse. The commotion could quickly escalate into further injuries on other birds, and further involvement drawn by the increase of blood. The mob mentality would prevail until the strongest or fastest were left in a situation of stalemate.

This happens among humans perhaps more often, and sometimes just as brutally. We citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven are called to defend the injured, though. We are empowered to protect, to heal, to bring peace. Even when the injured have attacked us.

1 Corinthians 13 is informative to people who are members of the Church with regard to what their treatment of each other looks like. The last verse of chapter 12 describes chapter 13 as “a more excellent way…”