You Turkey!

Posted on November 16, 2016 by Steve Willis in Article from The Messenger

Did you know that Ben Franklin wasn’t in favor of the eagle being our national symbol? The Smithsonian Institute gives this excerpt from this founding father as to why he thought a turkey is more emblematic of the values our nation holds dear.

     “For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a bird of bad moral character. He does not get his living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead tree near the river, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labor of the fishing hawk; and when that diligent bird has at length taken a fish, and is bearing it to his nest for the support of his mate and young ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.
With all this injustice, he is never in good case but like those among men who live by sharping & robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank coward: The little king bird not bigger than a sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the district. He is therefore by no means a proper emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the king birds from our country.
“I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For the truth the Turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird and withal a true original Native of America… He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his farm yard with a red coat on.”

Did you catch Franklin’s main reason for rejecting the eagle as our national symbol?  In his opinion, the man on our $100 bill did not respect a man who lives off the labor of others. He did not want our nation to be like an eagle, having the strength to fend for itself but yet choosing to use that strength to compel others to give him the spoil of others’ labor.  In other words, he viewed the eagle as a bully.

I pray that our churches and our nation are not filled with people who would use their power to forcibly take from others what they could have earned on their own.  In many ways, perhaps Franklin’s fears have been realized. We surely need more people who earn rather than take.  People who contribute instead of using their collective power to extort from others.

As you sit down for dinner this thanksgiving season, be thankful for turkeys.  Deep down I think we all want to be eagles. The symbol of Rome was the eagle. Strangely, we serve a Savior who first came to serve, not to be served, and to give His life as a ransom for many.  Eagles don’t do that.  But turkeys do.

Traditionally, if someone is causing trouble or pulling your leg, we’ll sometimes say, “You turkey!” as if that’s a pejorative term.  As Ben Franklin would say, maybe turkeys aren’t so bad after all.

–Steve