The story of Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach is a symbolic representation of the Vietnam Era. It is an inspirational story of a seagull who gets bored of the daily quarrel the food. His passion for flight seized and he wanted to learn and discover more about flying. His lack of conformity to the rules resulted in his expulsion from the flock and made him stand out as an outcast. He kept on learning new and wonderful things about flying until one day he met two other loving and radiant seagulls who took him higher . At that level there is a much better world awaiting for him which has been found through the perfection in knowledge. There he met other seagulls like him having passion to learn and fly.
His experimentation with flight lead him to new and sacred level where he creates a somewhat spiritual bond. "You've got to understand that a seagull is an unlimited idea of freedom, an image of the Great Gull (Bach p. 23)." There he met a teacher, the wisest of all seagulls, Chiang. He takes him beyond his previous learning experiences and teaches him how he could fly anywhere in the universe, instantaneously. In the words of Chiang, "begin by knowing that you have already arrived (Bach p.17)." He realized that to achieve greatness freedom is very important, “_that it is right for a gull to fly, that freedom is the very nature of his being, that whatever stands against that freedom must be set aside, be it ritual or superstition or limitation in any form (Bach p.25).”
By the teachings of Chiang, Jonathan realizes that for the freedom of spirit's ability of forgiveness is necessary. So he returns to his previous life to teach others and to share his immense knowledge and enormous experiences. Here he has to fight against the norms and rules of the flock to make them learn something out of this world, but the ability to forgive seems to be an imperative condition. So before starting the training of his first student he asks him, "Do you want to fly so much that you will forgive the Flock, and learn, and go back to them one day and work to help them know? (Bach p. 20)".
Similar to this the Vietnam Era, marks the rebel against the norms of the time. It was the time when the U.S. was involved in the war in Vietnam during the period which lasted from 1961 till 1975. It was one of the most turbulent and rebellious period in the history of the U.S. There was a conflict between the supporters and opponents of war in Vietnam. Civil right leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and many others fought against laws and attitudes of racism. They fought to provide equal rights and opportunities to the African Americans. Some groups of young people were against the conservative American traditions and they showed rebellion by growing long hair, leaving schools and doing experiments with drugs.
All this lead towards major changes in the history of the U.S., just as Jonathan in Jonathan Livingston Seagull showed rebellion against the norms of the flock trying to learn and experimenting with flying. The revolutionary leaders of that time worked to change the attitudes and laws towards racism against African Americans. The Women's rights movement demanded the equal opportunity rights for the women in every walk of life and a fair treatment.
The inspirational leaders of that time such as Martin Lurther King Jr., efforts brought about major changes in the fabric of an American society and their attitudes towards African American. But despite of such triumphs some of the inspirational American leaders were also assassinated, which caused disturbances in many cities.
There is a parallel between the efforts of Jonathan Livingstone Seagull who wanted to rise above the norms and standards of his flock and the efforts of the revolutionary leaders of the Vietnamese era, who worked to change the attitudes and norms of the society.
Jonathan Livingstone Seagull teaches us to rise above the dream, to recognize our potentials just as the leaders of the Vietnam era worked towards their goal.
Bach, R . “Jonathan Livingstone Seagull”. Macmillan Publishers. 1970. Print.
“The Vietnam Era.” The Times. 2012. Web. 1 May 2013.