Playing Chicken Part 2

The other day I met a chicken. And wrote about it here.

It still prickles me, though, because of the difference between her people’s assumption that it’s OK (safe) to let her range the entire neighborhood and my assumption that it is not.

Perhaps that is at the heart of cultural conflict. Not only the difference between those assumptions but how we act on and navigate them. Was KF (the chicken) bothering me or impinging on my rights? No. I was just concerned for her, and her family. They were not. OK, she’s not my chicken. When we fail to respect those differences, there is conflict.

If she were in great danger, or causing damage, would I have the right to do more?

What if she were a child?

KF (the chicken) is a living metaphor for the delicate balances we must navigate when we live in community.

This is a different aspect of community than I have thought of before, and rather than identifying the thing that binds a community together – the thing we have in common – it is a thing we have in uncommon. But the respect for that uncommonness is another important ingredient.

It is even another thing we have in common.


PS – I kind of like the idea that there is a Free Range Chicken in the neighborhood.

Photo Credit: “Australorp Pullet In The Henhouse” by Paul L. Nettles

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6 Responses to Playing Chicken Part 2

  1. Andrea Lewicki January 4, 2012 at 9:22 am #

    An interesting angle to ponder in regards to community. If community boundaries are marked by the transition from sameness to difference, does it mean that the boundary occurs at differences we don’t tolerate? I can see this easily in online communities. In real life neighborhoods and physical communities, does the physical boundary come first followed by a supporting mental model of us vs them?

    Also, I’m still getting over KFC as a chicken name. 🙂

  2. Susan January 4, 2012 at 9:59 am #

    Excellent questions, Andrea. I recently interviewed a number of people about how they define community, and one of the frequent responses was that a Community is a group of people who have something in common. That needn’t be a physical location, although it often is. What was unsaid was that there are more things we don’t have in common than the thing that makes the Community. I think you have a good point, that the “boundary” – at least between subcommunities – is formed at the differences we don’t tolerate.


  3. Pushpa January 4, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    This blog post had a very interesting effects on me. First I was laughing my head off with the comic situation of holding the chicken and going from door to door asking “Is this belongs to you” I imagined a comic strip showing chicken, Susan, neighbors surprised, Chicken flapping its wings, cats licking their lips… you get the picture!
    Then an insight. “No this is not just curiosity. Underneath all the outward efforts is a good samaritan.” That’s who you are Sue.

  4. Susan January 4, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

    Thanks, Pushpa, I appreciate that! Glad I made you laugh, too. 🙂

  5. Robin January 8, 2012 at 9:32 pm #

    The image of you herding a chicken, braving to pick up the chicken, and caring enough to find it’s rightful owner speaks volumes about the community you want to live in – I hope KF can get through to his “peeps” the importance of knowing our neighbors and watching out for each other. . . and their feathered “free-range” chickens 😀

  6. Susan January 9, 2012 at 9:17 am #

    Hi Robin! In my after-the-fact worry about looking like a meddlesome neighbor, I hadn’t thought of it that way. You are right, that is the kind of community I want to live in. Thank you!

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