We name things that draw together. We marvel at the capacity of things to move in coordination—and watch in awe at the sudden emergence of collective movement.
Consider a murmuration of starlings undulating in flight across the sky. These astonishing aerial ballets of up to several million birds, appear at dusk after a day of feeding in small groups and swirl in great displays across the sky.
What scientists understand about starlings is also what we need to understand about ourselves: that the ability to morph from individualism and small group action into collective, coordinated, and mass scale action is key to survival. Now. Today.
When we join as one great corpus, we protect the whole.
We have work to do! There are students and teachers we need to stand alongside. There are politicians that need confronting and new voices that need election. There is corruption that needs routing out and integrity that needs celebrating. It’s overwhelming—unless we follow the practices of starlings.
Here’s how they do that: here’s how we do that:
Individual birds synchronize their flight by spatially tracking with the six or seven birds closest around them;
So first gather six or seven folks and empower one another: read and watch and talk together, practice taking actions, communicate outwardly. Hold onto one another.
Each small flock joins the larger collective, by slipping into activity already in motion;
Then with your small group join the next larger thing happening around you: where do you stand and with whom do you stand?
The great size and constantly shifting shape of the flock confuses predators: a hawk, for instance, cannot figure out how to get its talons around this mirage of energies;
This is the power of great marches: a sense of safety when moving in tens, or hundreds, of thousands in peaceful demonstration; occupying space, linking arms, singing the revolution into being. Is danger present? May someone get hurt? Even killed? Yes. It is always so. AND YET—the collective survives.
It is also believed that there is an exchange of information going on about good feeding grounds for the next day.
By acting in coordination, we leave messages, stories, maps,–evidence of our flight and fight, in these times when we rise together—a mummeration of starlings becomes an urgency of citizens.
On March 14, at 10:00 AM in every time-zone all across the United States, students and teachers are invited to stop in the middle of the school day and observe 17 minutes of walkout to honor the 17 students and teachers who were killed on February 14 in Parkland, FL. Not a student or teacher? Join the larger flock: become an ally: stand at the edge of school property and show community support.
Call school administrations and make sure they are not disciplining students or faculty for taking part. Talk to colleges and universities and make sure they are supporting student activism that shows up on incoming freshman essays.
Find out of your representatives are taking money from the NRA—and join the defunding of the hawks.
If you’re anywhere near Washington DC on March 24, join the March for our Lives, organized by survivor students from Parkland. Find out what’s happening in your region.
Flock, flock, flock—the mummeration is urgent!
Roost for the night when you need to: rise with the morning light and include resistance and persistence in your daily life.