When confronted with a thorny problem, or trying to avoid a difficult situation, someone might say, “Putting your head in the sand isn’t going to get you out of this mess. Pretending it isn’t there won’t solve anything.” Though the expression has been around a long time, the image of putting one’s head in the sand as a response to fear comes from a myth about the South African ostrich. Facing a moment of danger, the ostrich, it was thought, would bury its head in the sand thinking itself invisible to its predators. Today, zoologists explain that when the female ostrich buries her head in the sand—which she does—in fact, she is putting her beak in a hole in the earth where she has laid her eggs. Gently turning each egg, she nurtures a new life. The next time you think someone is putting their head in the sand, watch what you say. They may be bravely hatching a fresh new idea or a creative solution to a problem.
By Christian Morris, OSB