I need pigeons

  • Published
  • By Col. Kevin Bennett
  • 49th Mission Support Group, commander

Many tales and stories of old feature animals as characters, acting and talking just like people while retaining their animal traits. The 25-cent word for it is anthropomorphism.  And weighing in at over 650 stories, Aesop's collection of fables is probably the most famous, both world-renown and timeless for the lessons and morals they teach.

Largely from these fables, such as "The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing," "The Hare and the Tortoise," and "The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs," we know that owls are wise, foxes are crafty, and lions are regal.  Oh the mighty lion, revered throughout history and folklore as the King of the Jungle.  Please. Male lions sleep for up to 20 hours a day, while the female lionesses are the hunters who provide food for the pride. My advice for Airmen is to forget the courageous lion, the untiring thoroughbred, and the tenacious badger. As a commander, what I need are pigeons.

A car was driving down the highway on a cold winter's night, a little too fast for the amount of road the car's headlights could illuminate. By the time the driver saw the deer in the middle of the road, staring straight at the driver and frozen in fear, it was too late. Despite a hundred feet of locked rubber clawing at the asphalt to slow the car down, the car struck and killed the immoveable deer.

I don't need deer:   Airmen with a big "A" include officers, enlisted and civilians alike, who are paralyzed and can't or don't act when faced with challenges or opportunities.

A car was driving down a country lane on a sunny yet brisk autumn day. The driver saw the squirrel crossing the road some ways ahead and started to slow down though he was sure the animal would finish crossing by the time the car got there.

Sensing danger, the squirrel stopped, looked up and saw the oncoming car. Immediately, the squirrel scampered back across the road the same way it came.  But, inexplicably, it stopped again, looked up and still saw the car bearing down on him. Before he became road kill, the squirrel ping-ponged back and forth, desperately trying to get out of the way, but never actually leaving the road.

I don't need squirrels:   Airmen who understand when to act, but have no confidence in their abilities or decisions and second guess themselves into a series of ineffective activities.  

A car was driving down a city street on a sweltering hot summer day. There was a group of pigeons in a crosswalk, gulping down some spilled popcorn bought from a nearby street vendor. The driver never slowed as the seemingly oblivious pigeons continued to gorge. However, just as the car was about to plow through the clueless birds, each of them chose a very specific direction and flapped purposely toward safety, while the car ran harmlessly over the popcorn.

I need pigeons:   Airmen who know what needs to be done, when it needs to be done and how best to get it done. Standing back paralyzed, failing to stop an unsafe practice, failing to intervene in a sexual assault, or failing to have the moral courage to do what's right erodes our mission and destroys morale. Indecision or rapidly changing focus is equally crippling...especially if you're a supervisor.

Observe, decide and act...be a pigeon.