Used Book Passage of the Day: Reacting to Conflicts

“Birds, men and other animals react much the same way when they are urged ahead by anger but at the same time held back by fear or other emotions. A starling, facing a rival, may preen its feathers instead of fighting; a man faced with a similar situation might scratch his head in frustration. When a gull cannot complete any of several acts, it stands ready to peck but unable to strike; a man might clench his fists and take a step forward. To release feeling, the blackbird at far left pecks furiously at a leaf instead of a bird, just as an angry man might react by banging his fist on a substitute target like a table.”

from Animal Behavior by Niko Tinbergen and the Editors of Time-Life Books, Time-Life Books, New York. 1970.

I found Animal Behavior in the dollar room at one of my favorite used bookstores, The Last Bookstore in Downtown Los Angeles.

The blackbird sounds like the best adjusted of us all.

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