April 11, 2004
This time of spring the tom turkeys are courting the hens. The toms will fan out their tails and hold their feathers up away from their bodies to make themselves look much larger than they really are. Then they gobble and strut back and forth to attract females.
I spotted this tom with three hens. When I got close he dropped his strut and the group slowly moved off, but not before I was able to make this image.
I find it interesting how the human mind works... we are constantly forming associations, whether we are aware of them or not, it's the nature of being human. Ben Franklin wanted the turkey to be our nation bird instead of the Bald Eagle. Today that sounds odd to us because we associate certain characteristics with turkeys and others with eagles. We think of eagles as majestic, fierce and independent. We ignore that they are often scavengers and will steal food from each other. We think of turkeys as being foolish, loud and ugly. We ignore their keen senses, intricate shifting social structure and subtle beauty.
Those are some of the associations that we make with two types of birds. We also make associations with people. Often we're not even aware that we are making these associations, it happens subconsciously. We are influenced by the media more now than at any point in history. I believe that increasingly people's subconscious associations are formed not by what they experience with direct contact with others, but by what they are exposed to in the media. If a certain race or religion or nationality is presented in a certain way in the media then people subconsciously forming associations.
Can you think of a people that are consistently represented as lazy in movies, a religion that is represented as greedy, a people that is represented as violent, a race that is very frequently shown as subservient, another that is represented as a laboring class?
In reality is it even possible for these associations to represent an entire group of people? All countries have leaders, intellectual giants and people that work hard. Most people in all cultures strive for peace. All people that have endured the trials of time develop culture, knowledge, philosophy and art that are of value to all of mankind.
In society as well as nature we need to look past some of our subconscious associations with groups and try to observe individuals and their own behavior.