Chicken history, Human history

 (This was written in response to a question I can’t locate to people on the Yahoo group of people raising chickens– Jeanne)

The brotherhood will probably drop me over the side wrapped in sailcloth weighed down with a 12 pound shot for telling, but you could think of it in terms of chicken history, which is contained in individual minds of living humans because nobody’s written it down. Most of the memories containing the history are female because for some reason the females have been the ones taking care of chickens, knowing them. It’s true today as well.

The memories that stand out about individual chickens involve function and behavior. We remember rambunctious roosters, recalcitrant roosters, smart roosters, mean roosters, roosters with unusual crowing habits. We remember hens who were the best layers, the most nurturing brooders and moms, the most touching and heart-winning in one way or another.

Written history of human beings has always been a hodgepodge, a combination of noteworthy, unusual, along with a propaganda slant when taught to children during their formative years, and it gets carried into adulthood as truth though much of it isn’t true, or is only mildly true, particularly when it concerns national historical memories. It;s biased because the function it serves is agenda-based, though probably mostly unconsciously. People filter it at the extreme ends of the bell curve, but the center gets held as truth, held passionately oftentimes. Aaron Burr, Benedict Arnold run down one side of that thread, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln down the other. Betsy Ross, Clara Barton, Calamity Jane, Belle Starr.

The idiosyncracies of Caligula have definitely gotten better billing in the history books than, say, Queen Ranalovana I of Madagascar or Lucretia Borgia or the more bizarre side of Catherine the Great, but they’ve been there. Probably that’s the ‘male version’ you’re referring to.

What’s new is a function of written history where, say, a female stowaway aboard the HMS Victory at Trafalgar who helped put out fires below-decks gets equal page-space with Horatio Nelson. That builds into kids being asked how she ‘contributed’ to the victory at Trafalgar for homework and tests.

Nothing wrong with it, I suppose. Particularly because history’s always been a place where shadows pace around waiting for cues to come out for the audience to contribute to this or that modern agenda.

The male in me finds Joan of Arc, Lucretia Borgia and the Russian Cat-bird interesting enough to fill the needs. I figure someone would have put out the below-deck fires on the Victory, no matter what sex they were.


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