An Allegory about
      Intellectual and Professional
      Freedom in the Public Library


Turkey Girl

Two young birds were talking one day. The eagle asked the turkey why she stayed so close to all the other turkeys and never ventured out on her own.

The young turkey gobbled back, "I am very happy doing what everyone else does. And besides, there are rules and regulations which state that turkeys should never go beyond the fence rows."

The eagle chortled and proudly affirmed, "That kind of existence would really bore me!" He prized his ability to fly high above the fence rows in free flight. To him that independence was the ultimate trip.

The eagle related how his parents had valued their own freedom and had shown him how to respect the power of his mind and the shape of his wings. "All problems have understandable causes and even relationship conflicts can be negotiated successfully," he cheerfully proclaimed. "Especially, if they are analyzed in win-win contexts of mutual respect!" he added with a flourish.

The turkey looked at the precocious eagle in bewilderment. She had listened to his proposal for more than ten minutes and was becoming impatient with his flamboyant behavior. "We are safe and secure here," she thought to herself. "Why spoil my routine?"

"There is tasty grain to eat and clean water to sip. Everything is okay, isn't it?" she questioned herself as she displayed her plumage and did the turkey trot.

In response to her cute gesture, the gallant eagle strutted about and fluttered his fine feathers. He wanted to take off with his new friend to discover the joyful delights beyond the horizon together.

But his thoughts were interrupted when she invited him to meet the flock instead. After the eagle was introduced to the flock, the turkey leader began to explain the importance of protocol and the venerable chain-of-command.

"My fine feathered friend, it is not proper for you to get the idea that you can fly into the Turkey Pen whenever you please!" she dogmatically gobbled. "We cannot allow this departure from acceptable behavior. It is just too upsetting for the poults who need strict discipline as they learn the official rules," the pompous old hen warned the eagle.

All the old geezers in the flock simultaneously shook their wattles and took turns scratching her back as the old hen continued to explain her birdbrained view of life.

"We want to maintain the status quo in order to avoid aggravation and keep order," she solemnly declared. "We cannot tolerate ruffled feathers around here. Order is essential for a peaceful and harmonious flock. Birds of a feather must always flock together!" she haughtily pleaded.


"Order is based upon OBEDIENCE to the rules and regulations in the Turkey Pen. Official orders handed down through the chain-of-command should NEVER BE QUESTIONED!" the leader coldly exhorted the flock.

"Otherwise, if you don't flock together, you will be INSUBORDINATE!" the grumpy old turkey leader warned the flock.

(Click on the picture to see why the old turkey leader felt that way)

The dictatorial attitude of the flock leader irritated the enlightened eagle who began to feel uncomfortable as he listened to the bureaucratic nonsense.


The eagle was offended by the intimidating VERBAL THREATS and the simpleminded BRAINWASHING of the wrinkled old hen.

"THAT'S FOR THE BIRDS!" the eagle quipped.

(Click on the picture to see why the young eagle felt that way)

Then, as the eagle backed away from the center of the flock, he accidently bumped into an aging turkey whose yellowish-gray color differentiated him from the rest of the birds. He listened as Uncle Tom Turkey began mumbling. (See the End Note for Uncle Tom's symbolic meaning)

Uncle Tom's language was difficult to interpret but his wimpish voice and haggard expression created a vivid picture of the cowardly dysfunctional life in the Turkey Pen.

Tom had lived his youth on a different kind of farm where turkeys had been permitted to walk or fly from acre to acre doing whatever they wanted. After he was sold to his new owner and transported to this commercialized turkey farm, Tom had hoped to share his good feelings about himself and his past with his new pen pals.

But soon after he had arrived at the factory farm, before he could fully explain his own philosophy of life to his new comrades, he was promoted to a middle management position. He was appointed cold turkey to supervise the fledglings and was not permitted to fraternize with them, he disclosed to the eagle.

Uncle Tom had thought that his swift upward mobility was due to his good personality and high moral standards. At the beginning he was very proud of his position of influence. He had thought of his promotion as a feather in his cap. But, unfortunately, his high rank brought with it extra turmoil.

In his new position as a supervisor, Tom had been forced to kiss up to his bosses and scratch their backs. And he had to cover his own tail feathers in order to protect himself and please his superiors. As an official overseer he had to maintain a constant vigil over his young subordinates to ensure that they did what they were supposed to do. Tom had been compelled to defend many rules and regulations which he did not like. He had to enforce the official pecking order no matter what. He could not let the young turkeys take risks or learn from their mistakes for fear he would be condemned by his own boss.

Tom explained to the eagle that he was never comfortable playing the condescending role of a middle manager, as both a superior boss to the young and an inferior subordinate to his boss. But he felt it was his duty to suppress optimism and inhibit creativity. Sometimes he had to intimidate the adolescent upstarts and even scold them in order to get them to cooperate. In the beginning Tom rationalized his own dictatorial and often patronizing behavior toward the young turkeys by his assumption that it was easier to control them that way.

However, instead of feeling happy about his career as a supervisor, he now felt guilty for having pulled rank to quash the creativity of his cohorts so many times. After many years of painful regret, Tom's sensibilities had been dulled due to the official hypocritical training program. He now realized he had been co-opted by his superiors and had sold out his positive values, including his youthful optimistic belief in self determination. Tom's sad legacy was that he had feathered his own nest at the expense of the young whom he had repeatedly stifled.

The eagle was surprised to see how well the mean spirited militant leadership psychology of the old turkeys was working and just how much featherbedding they sanctioned. The effectiveness of the official policies and propaganda of the old turkeys stunned the eagle. The eagle could see that Tom had unwittingly absorbed the cynical values and the brutal manipulation tactics of his so called superiors and had been duped into being a doofus.

As the eagle pondered Uncle Tom's revelations about the ruthless bureaucratic policies of the old turkey leaders, he could see that Tom had been henpecked beyond rehabilitation. The official bureaucratic policies of self suppression and victimization had kept Uncle Tom and the young turkeys co-dependent. Tragically, the eagle could see that the dependency of Tom and the young turkeys made them depressed and even delusional with no ambition to excel.

All the turkeys appeared to be permanently stuck in the Turkey Pen, oblivious of their captivity, with no exit except oblivion.

Just then the beguiling oratory of the old flock leader caught the eagle's attention once again. The pretentious old hen was gesticulating erratically as she pontificated further:

"Our flock can be compared to a giant tree that is rooted in the past," she gobbled loudly. "In spite of all the dead wood in its main branches, it continues to flourish --- except just before Thanksgiving Day each year --- when most of our best young turkeys disappear," she gasped faintheartedly."

The old hen's shrill voice wavered and her body quivered but she regained her composure and strutted contemptuously around the young eagle once more. "Nevertheless," she strongly insisted, "we must resist all changes in order to stay in control!"


"We truly are the BENEFICIARIES of the BUREAUCRATIC system!" the arrogant old turkey leader boasted. "We cannot afford to change!"

"We LIFERS who remain --- we continue to be fed by the farmer --- and we continue to breed --- and we continue to OBEY THE RULES!" the old leader squawked self righteously.

(Click on the picture to see why the old turkey leader felt that way)

The disgraceful insults and elitist snobbery of the obstinate old hen disgusted the eagle. Suddenly, he discovered the fatal flaw in the leadership theory of the old turkeys. Even though the farmer had disabled the turkeys by clipping their wings when they were younger, thereby crippling them so they could not fly anywhere anymore, it was the authoritarian hierarchical management structure of the old power freaks in the Turkey Pen that continued to compel the young turkeys to comply.

The young turkeys, therefore, were vulnerable to the entrenched bureaucratic policies of the arrogant old turkey leaders. This ancient administrative political scheme was like a vice crushing the cortexes and amygdales of their little bird brains, forcing them into total submission and compliant obedience to a higher power.

The eagle felt sorry for the young turkeys and Uncle Tom when he realized just how inert their little bird brains had become. Now the eagle knew why the turkeys were spending so much time scratching around in little vicious circles. They were humiliated and afraid of reprisals from their superiors in the pecking order. Since the flock had been shamed into obedience, all the young turkeys were powerless to protest. They had become enablers, acting more chicken than turkey.

The eagle's vantage point as an outsider gave him the perspective necessary to realize that the systematic scolding and brainwashing by their supervisors had taught the young turkeys to fear growing up. They were afraid to make waves and to rock the bureaucratic boat, which was afloat in a sea of frustration and awash in an ocean of self-imposed limitations. They were always covering their own tail feathers because they were always afraid of retribution, fearful that they would become the target of more humiliation and abuse. They were stuck in a perpetual cycle of self-deprication.

The irrational official policies of their superiors had kept the young turkeys ignorant of their evolutionary heritage. Because the young turkeys were not free to think for themselves, they could not see how well their passivity fit into the busy farmer's "Grade A" marketing plan. They could not comprehend how easily the old turkeys controlled them with lies about their self-worth. They were demoralized and helpless to change their hapless fate. Since they had not learned coping skills from their leaders, they had very low self-esteem and no authentic self-respect.

The fair minded eagle saw with his eagle eye the atrocious inequity in the Turkey Pen. He could no longer tolerate the flagrant abuse of the younger turkeys by the older turkeys. Since he rejected the unethical and irrational hypocritical bureaucratic rules and regulations prevalent in the Turkey Pen, the eagle screeched back at the pathetic downtrodden flock who he believed had all been turned into feckless fowl:

It's bird dung! What wasted potential!" shouted the outraged eagle.

"What foul fowl! What feckless farts!
YOUR LEADERS SUCK!" the feisty eagle exclaimed.

(Click on the picture to see why the young eagle felt that way)

With a mighty flap of his powerful wings, the sagacious eagle leaped into the air and headed for the stars. Soon he was flying high enough to have a bird's eye view of the Turkey Pen. From his perspective high in the sky, the wise eagle could see clearly that the Turkey Pen was only a small speck of the real world.

When the courageous eagle swooped and glided, he was thrilled that his own knowledge and values gave him a bigger and better picture of life than the one the young turkeys had been brain washed to accept in the Turkey Pen. As the happy eagle soared in the warm thermal currents high above the Turkey Pen, his positive perception of himself and his true environment caused an ecstatic rush of endorphins and oxytocin hormones, which started in the limbic part of his brain and quickly spread throughout his strong body.

As he realized the truth about the dysfunctional Turkey Pen, he felt empowered to do an acrobatic flip as he circled the Turkey Pen one last time and made a graceful flyover before heading for friendlier skies:


"Bureaucratic rules and regulations that are not open to rational analysis and amenable to change are are unethical and evil," thought the skeptical eagle.

"All fraudulent official rules and regulations must be challenged and transformed" the fair-minded eagle emphatically affirmed to himself.

The vigilant eagle was profoundly skeptical of all superficial bureaucratic rules and regulations not in tune with reality and with no provision for change. The eagle's bold commitment to the quest for scientific truth and positive survival values gave him the willpower to create his own career destiny. He was proud of his topflight family values. These ethical assumptions about his ability to create goodness in the world motivated him to be resourceful and to resist and overcome the kind of corrupt bureaucratic policies and resulting gobbledygook that squelched free inquiry and creative results in the Turkey Pen.

As he picked up speed in his straight forward flight, the courageous eagle remembered the key to successful flying.

The robust eagle's parents had taught him that he must never let problems destroy his willingness to survive and to solve them, no matter how depressing or traumatic they were. He had been taught that his self-esteem depended upon how well he managed his habits and how much he respected himself. He knew it was his own personal values and courageous choices that gave him the optimism to survive and the enthusiasm to adapt to the continuously changing natural environment.

Gratified by his own awareness of the awesome nature of his own reality, he reminded himself that it was his own independent ethical perspective that permitted him to live in the present and honor life itself. He knew deep inside his heart and soul that it was his own mindful approach to everything around him that made it possible for him to fly freely into the future!



(Click on the eagle's face to see why a winner must focus for success in life)

Copyright © Pending


I have used the classic stereotypical image of "Uncle Tom" as a co-opted African-American person in a colorless way to apply to my career as a professional librarian in the County Library department. It appears that employment discrimination exists in the entrenched bureaucratic caste system caused by rigid gender biases and socioeconomic prejudices. This unprofessional and unethical attitude permeates the implementation of policy and practices related to the administration of annual performance evaluations and appraisals of promotability.

All the employment examinations are presumed to be valid and reliable --- without any demonstrative objective proof!

There appears to be no accountability for County Library Human Resources Development staff who seem to be "protected" from scrutiny by official ancient policy constraints cloaked in the political platitudes of Affirmative Action.

Hopefully, the current three-year "Strategic Plan" planning process will not take all three years before the essential changes are made that will provide more fairness and empowerment for the great majority of full-time library employees!

However, judging from past experience, it is likely that a critical mass of "professional" librarians and "paraprofessional" library assistants from all "Salary Classifications" will have to assert themselves --- until they force top library administrators to create a new more supportive leadership policy rooted in the quest for dignity and respect for all County Library department subordinate employees.

A new policy based upon a new understanding of professionalism and modern psychology is required that will provide more respect and appreciation for the good work that the great majority of subordinate staff members accomplish every day. Subordinates deserve and desperately need genuine and sincere respect and recognition in order to survive and thrive under the extremely stressful changing working conditions, including demographic changes, technological transitions, and budget reduction realities.

Click on the Leadership Control Essay link for a more detailed and comprehensive explanation of the meaning of the Turkey Pen Allegory, which dramatizes the essential changes that should be included in the Strategic Plan. Only after the real leadership problem is acknowledged can the County Library bureaucracy be transformed into a truly professional efficient and effective knowledge-based and principle-centered institution for the purpose of providing free public information services to citizens!

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