Lessons from the Galapagos
They were all over the place everywhere I looked. And when
I wasn't looking, they were under my feet, moving silently
in a foreordained direction. Lizards, hundreds of them gathered
together communicating in a silent language known only to them.
On occasion and without warning, they issued an admonition
in the form of a slimy oral projectile. Small and large, dressed
in their colorful finery, the cold-blooded ones huddled closely
for warmth and to give homage to their deity. Others, a smaller
and less aggressive species, scurried from place to place seeking
nourishment while trying to stay out of harm's way. Some are
able to hold their own amidst the rise and fall of the tides
while others never venture from secure ground.
Elsewhere, the boobies abounded. Underfoot, they simply sat
on the ground and stared, daring me to get in their way. In
my face and without shame, they carried out the orders that
nature intended. From above, they compelled me to respect their
point of view or suffer the indignity of their punishment.
Their finery was continually on display. In comparison, I felt
diminished and unkempt. Shod in shoes of red and blue, they
were all over the place. The younger ones fought aggressively
for their positions. Usually not seen by the public, they took
no prisoners and were oblivious to the stealthy reptiles that
laid in wait for their feast.
Amidst the trappings of benevolent control, the “beach
master” moved across his domain on the constant alert
for intruders. Not willing to allow for diversity, fearful
of outsiders and protective of his sphere of influence, his
barking voice reached the ears of all who were present and
those who were hidden from view. Peace reigned in the kingdom
and no outsider dared to make a challenge—not at that
I apologize. Did you think I was at Tweed or “110” or
65 Court Street? Oh, no! I was simply describing my extraordinary
visit to the Galapagos Islands.
It is true that we sometimes see ourselves in the behavior
of animals. In the Galapagos, one can see the physical and
behavioral adaptations and truly understand the enormous power
of natural forces. Protected from us, the animals of the islands
live out their destiny in indescribable beauty.
It was the cigarette butt lying alongside of the trail that
startled me. I was reminded about how we tamper with natural
forces—even in our chosen profession. How we impose,
inflict and indoctrinate modifies the natural order of things. And who is to know how it will all turn
out over the long haul. That lone cigarette butt was a signal
that we cannot afford to be careless about anything we do personally
Jill Levy is President, Council of School Supervisors and Administrators.