The Partridge and the Eggs – When Small Wins

Estimated reading time: 1 minute, 51 seconds

Laura Gibbs recently shared with me the fable of the Partridge and her eggs, in response to my recent blogpost about whether critical change was possible from the inside. She shared it as a story of how the little creatures are the ones that solve the problem, not the big creatures, and I guess also the value of community. The story is simple: a python (snake) surrounds the eggs of a patridge (bird). Several large animals offer to stomp on the snake in order to help, but the partridge refuses because a big animal destroying the snake would also destroy her eggs. In the end, the ants, little ones coming from different directions, are the ones that manage to save the day by nipping at the snake from all directions until he slithered away.

I love this story, because it also shows how aggression in response to a predator or attacker might harm the very thing we are trying to protect. I also love that it is a group of ants taking small actions in sync is what makes a difference here. Sometimes, in trying to defend something precious, we allow big actors to stomp in defense, but they can cause harm not only to the attacker, but to the very precious, fragile thing we are protecting.

This quote from Emergent Strategy by Adrienne maree brown captures it in an example she gives early in the book “every member of the community holds pieces of the solution, even if we are all engaged in different layers of the work.”

It’s a beautiful story. If we were all partridges, what are the eggs we are trying to protect, what is the snake we want to protect them from, and what are the larger animals and ants metaphors for?

If education and learning are the precious thing we are trying to protect, I believe that dismantling and destroying educational institutions like universities would potentially harm the most marginalized of learners and a solution might contain some type of community organizing from educators and learners together with different roles at different layers perhaps? There is nothing revolutionary about what I am saying, and perhaps it is too idealistic… or is it?

Featured image from Pixabay

2 thoughts on “The Partridge and the Eggs – When Small Wins

  1. Even though the ants are doing less harm, the python still “slithered away in terror.” I’m thinking we need to be careful identifying genuine threats and then make sure our nip nip nips aren’t just annoying 😉

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