“The mockingbird is gray on top and white on its underside. It has white patches on its wings that look like bars; a long black tail, and white outer feathers and a long, slender bill. Males and females look alike.
“The mockingbird is very territorial. It dives and attacks intruders that come too close to its territory. It may even attack its own reflection!
“The mockingbird was given its name because of its ability to mimic the calls of dozens of other bird species. In fact, the mockingbird’s Latin name, Mimus polyglottos, means many-tongued mimic. The mockingbird has even been known to mimic the sounds of dogs and sirens! The mockingbird is especially vocal on moonlit spring nights.” ~NatureWorks
The mockingbird has a great talent. It can imitate the calls of many other birds. It can even imitate the calls of dogs, cats, sirens, and bells. It has learned to annoy the hell out of people by imitating the ring of their cellphones. But the mockingbird also has a song of its own. It isn’t stuck being a mimic at all times. It only does it to confuse, or to have fun, or just because it likes the sound of something so it imitates it. Who can say for sure the motivation of the mockingbird? But that is only true of the literal mockingbird.
There are other kinds of mocking birds, including humans. We imitate each other. We may even imitate other species. This is just as wonderful a talent as with the literal mockingbird. But it can also be a curse. We are not just taught to speak, dress, and live like others. We are also taught to act like others and think like others. We are taught to believe what others believe. That might be just fine if everyone we were mimicking believed the truth. It would be fine if everyone we mock is someone worth mocking. Unfortunate, it isn’t. Many people firmly believe things because they were told to them by someone they trusted. Parents, teachers, priests and ministers, even scientists. People love to push their beliefs on others, even when they have no evidence that those beliefs are true. We love training mockingbirds. We love to see ourselves in a mirror. When the mirror is a young mind being indoctrinated into society, we love it even more. How wonderful to look into a child and see a mirror image of ourselves!
But the mockingbird doesn’t always imitate. Can we say the same?
Stuck as Mockingbirds
The problem with humans acting like mockingbirds is that we forget it is just an act. We start to thing the imitation self we have created, with a great deal of help from others, is really who we are. We will give speeches on how right we are in our fantasy selves. We will fight in wars to protect our imitation self. But, sadly, few of us make an effort to bring out our true self. This is especially true on the spiritual level.
Being physical and mental mockingbirds is bad enough, but we also do it on a spiritual level. Studies have shown that a large majority of people belong to the same religion or church that their parents belonged to. Like the person who refuses to admit he voted for the wrong politician, we don’t want to admit that the church our parents sent us to since we were children is not sufficient. Only a small number start feeling inside that the activities of those churches, which are more like social clubs than spiritual development institutions. Even worse, many of those who finally do make that realization, then join some spiritual group that is just as bad. They love to say that religion is following someone else, spirituality is learning it for yourself. Then they will follow a spiritual development method because it is popular, not because it has been proven to work.
In spirituality, we must be willing to go out on a limb. We must be willing to try methods that our spiritual friends don’t practice, and may have not even heard of. McDonald’s may be the most popular restaurant, but that doesn’t make it the best. So follow that spiritual meme for real. Don’t be a spiritual mockingbird. Greatness doesn’t come from imitating others.