A fable is told about an
eagle who thought he was a chicken. When the eagle was very small, he fell
from the safety of his nest. A chicken farmer found the eagle, brought
him to the farm, and raised him in a chicken coop among his many chickens. The
eagle grew up doing what chickens do, living like a chicken, and believing he
was a chicken.
A naturalist came to the chicken farm to see if what he had heard
about an eagle acting like a chicken was really true. He knew that an eagle
is king of the sky. He was surprised to see the eagle strutting around the
chicken coop, pecking at the ground, and acting very much like a chicken. The
farmer explained to the naturalist that this bird was no longer an eagle. He
was now a chicken because he had been trained to be a chicken and he believed
that he was a chicken.
The naturalist knew there was more to this great bird than his
actions showed as he "pretended" to be a chicken. He was born an eagle and
had the heart of an eagle, and nothing could change that. The man lifted the
eagle onto the fence surrounding the chicken coop and said, "Eagle, thou art
an eagle. Stretch forth thy wings and fly." The eagle moved slightly, only
to look at the man; then he glanced down at his home among the chickens in the
chicken coop where he was comfortable. He jumped off the fence and continued
doing what chickens do. The farmer was satisfied. "I told you it was a
chicken," he said.
The naturalist returned the next day and tried again to convince
the farmer and the eagle that the eagle was born for something greater. He
took the eagle to the top of the farmhouse and spoke to him: "Eagle, thou art
an eagle. Thou dost belong to the sky and not to the earth. Stretch forth
thy wings and fly." The large bird looked at the man, then again down into the
chicken coop. He jumped from the man's arm onto the roof of the farmhouse.
Knowing what eagles are really about, the naturalist asked the
farmer to let him try one more time. He would return the next day and prove
that this bird was an eagle. The farmer, convinced otherwise, said, "It is a
The naturalist returned the next morning to the chicken farm and
took the eagle and the farmer some distance away to the foot of a high
mountain. They could not see the farm nor the chicken coop from this new
setting. The man held the eagle on his arm and pointed high into the sky
where the bright sun was beckoning above. He spoke: "Eagle, thou art an
eagle! Thou dost belong to the sky and not to the earth. Stretch forth thy
wings and fly." This time the eagle stared skyward into the bright sun,
straightened his large body, and stretched his massive wings. His wings
moved, slowly at first, then surely and powerfully. With the mighty screech
of an eagle, he flew.