Plastic Owls – An Allegory

In the full warm sun, pigeons covered the supermarket roof, making it seem alive. Each slip, peck and adjustment led to waves of responses; cascading movements and flutters. Minute after minute, more birds came. Few left.

I watched the birds for quite some time before I saw the other figures, the large, threatening-looking, evil-eyed plastic owls mounted on the roof, staring blankly at the pigeons circling around them. Some pigeons even bumped up against the owls. Were the pigeons showing disdain, mocking the owls’ very existence, or did it just seem that way to me?

We’ve all, our course, seen these owls in hardware stores and wondered if they fulfill the package marketing promises. It would seem the people running this particular grocery store should by now have ample evidence of the utility or, in this case, disutility of using plastic owls to repel bird invaders.

And yet, they remain deployed.

We, too, have set out impotent sentries long past the time when, if we were paying attention and were objective in our understandings, we would have realized they provide no protection from our demons. We are like the cathedral builders of old who installed gargoyles, realizing full well they truly served only aesthetic purposes.

Long after they have lost their meaning and power, the icons of our empire remain.

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