18 October 2009


As you look through literature, common motifs become apparent. One such motif is the eagle. Specifically, the eagle has come to represent the heroes in books, while bats or ravens represent the villains. The eagle and the raven face off, prepared to fight to the death, and all the attention focuses on this 'match of the century.' But no one ever remembers the pigeons, the extras, the set changers of the main drama.

Eagles are the important folk. In stories, they tend to have big, shiny swords, larger egos, and a moral center that constantly pits them against those of opposing views. In real life, they are smart, witty, and centers of attention. When an eagle walks into the room, you're certain to notice. People observe every move, every word spoken. Each action an eagle makes has thousands of effects that ripple outward like waves in a still pond. They can be political, like President Obama, or scientific, like Einstein, or even just flashy, like the actors in Hollywood or Oprah Winfrey. Eagles are, in short, the noticeable, 'cool' ones. They go out to combat with zeal, passion, and energy, trying to raise the poor, oppressed population as they go.

Ravens are the Eagles' doppelgangers. They are charismatic, energetic, 'go-do'ers. Ravens are the ones that dress in black, have evil henchmen, and tend to live in dark, stormy castles. The job-description includes oppressing the poor population, burning villages, and serving as the Eagle's scape goats. The truth of the accusations laid against them may vary, but from the Eagles' perspectives, they are always in the wrong, and should be destroyed. They too, are political, like former President Bush or Vladimir Putin, or scientific, like Oppenheimer, or flashy, like Oprah Winfrey or Rush Limbaugh. Regardless of the truth of the accusations, they are always shown in the worst light possible, and can be counted on to fight the Eagles to the death, burning and destroying Pigeons as they go.

But what of these Pigeons? Who are they? We are. The unimportant, unflashy, non-sword wielding, oppressed population is us. We're ignorable. When an Eagle is present, no one looks at us. We are roused by the Eagles to fight against the Ravens, and then the Ravens come through, and we fall with the Eagles. We are caught in the middle and used by both of the important birds. Our plumage isn't fierce, nor is it glossy. It's gray, fluffy, common. We have no talons, no sharp beaks, and we scrabble on the ground for the leftovers of the Eagles and Ravens. We're Red Shirts.

If this prospect depresses you, I have an uplifting message: Embrace your mediocrity! Where would the Eagles and Ravens be without their extras? They'd be left in a room, glaring daggers at each other, unable to do anything. Without expendable, unimportant background players, the plot of a story cannot progress. Just because it may not be as interesting, awesome, or cool, the stories we possess are just as legitimate as the ones the heroes and villains occupy. We are the heroes of our own stories, and we should not wait for the other birds to make fools of us. Seize the day, because who knows when you'll be thrown under the band wagon?

Proudly a pigeon,

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