What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, or so the saying goes.
But what about the goslings?
This idiom seems to express that what benefits one should benefit another or that the right thing for one is right for another.
A goose (in case it is unclear in your understanding like it was in mine) is an adult female and a gander an adult male. The offspring of these creatures bears a term appropriate to their downy cuteness—a gosling.
Bear with me for a moment as this is no paltry exploration of poultry etiquette. It’s far more serious than that.
I’ve had a rather close seat at the table for a situation in which a couple of cute little goslings have been taken under another pair of wings so the goose can get her nest in order. There are big feelings and big plans and no small amount of noise… but still no real nest. And it seems the time may be drawing near to close the gate of opportunity for this particular goose to be reunited with these goslings.
It’s a heartbreaking reality to consider but in truth there is no substitute that will ever be more than plan B for those goslings… and perhaps much further down the alphabet still. But sometimes a goose simply cannot care for the goslings.
But what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, right? Does that principle apply even when the ganders are too small to be called such?
It seems so straightforward in that we all feel compelled to choose in favor of the well-being of the goslings even if it means a crushing loss to the goose—a loss of purpose, a loss of identity, a loss of hope. But is what is good for the goslings really good for the goose as well?
Let’s shift species for moment. I read of a shepherd, quite likely the greatest that ever watched a flock, who would without hesitation leave ninety-nine sheep in the herd to seek out the one that was lost. What was good for that sheep was for the shepherd to go and find it and bring it back to the flock. But in that situation was it not also best for the flock that the one be restored?
I was once a part of a particular flock when it was recognized that some of my own failings had brought a wounding to the entire flock. A fellow sheep urged me to simply leave the flock for the good of the flock.
I’ve heard something similar many, many times in my life—that the good of the flock (or whatever other collective might be appropriate) supersedes the well-being of the individual.
But, if that best shepherd would leave ninety-nine sheep to look for the one lost sheep, doesn’t it seem that maybe there ought to be a way to find a path that is best for the one and the many? Could there be a way to serve both the goose and the goslings well?
To be sure, I’m no expert in waterfowl and their ways, but I’ve helped nurture some neglected goslings in my journeys. And while I’ve tended a few flocks I could never call myself a good shepherd. I don’t know how to get a goose to learn to be an effective mother except, perhaps, a gift for rhyme.
I do know that the overseers of these particular wetlands have a weight of decision I couldn’t imagine having to carry. I know that, despite her incompetence, the goslings need their goose. And I know that this whole fowl tale is yet another weighty piece of evidence of a creation gone afoul of her design.
The cry of my heart tonight is this: May the Good Shepherd guide for the good of the goose AND the goslings—for only He knows the way.