Penguins are natural entertainers. At the Omaha Zoo, the king penguins and rockhoppers will stand together patiently until a group of children come through. Then they spring into action. They dive into the water, perform sychronized swimming routines and races, and ”fly” up onto the ice once more. Other penguins clap their flippers in merriment, and the children laugh and cheer. Once the group leaves, the penguins take a break and wait patiently for the next group of children to pass through. The one lowly adult present to witness this does not even merit a dress rehearsal.
This behavior reminds me of my own children, who seem to ”come alive” when there is an audience. They tell stories, sing songs, and show their “kung fu” skills to any adult who will listen…except their parents who do not always merit a dress rehearsal.
Penguins also have many admirable qualities to their nature. One example is the Emperor Penguins’ technique for surviving the Antarctic winters. According to National Geographic, Emperor Penguins form a huddle. Those in the middle are safe from the harsh environment, while those in the outside risk freezing to death. The penguins are constantly moving in their huddle. The outside ones move in as the inside ones are moving out. There is no argument. There is no selfishness. Sacrifices must be made for survival. A little discomfort on everyone’s part serves to preserve the whole community. It is fair. It is balanced. It is selfless. It is love.
This is the sacrificial spirit I want my children to learn and to practice.