By Bikram Vohra
According to the laws of aeronautical science the bumblebee cannot fly. The size of its body and the shape of its wings makes flying impossible. But the bumblebee does not know that it flies and makes a little honey, too.
Animal parables have always had an impact on me. They say it all so sharply and with such clarity do they hold up a mirror to the human experience.
The story of the scorpion fits perfectly. It asked a frog for a lift across the raging river. No way, said the frog, if I let you sit on my back you will sting me and kill me.
Why would I do that, said the scorpion, if I sting you, I’ll drown and die, too. Unable to combat the logic of that the frog agreed and they set off across the water. Half way there the scorpion stung the frog and as they were drowning, the frog croaked; why did you do that?
Sorry, said, the scorpion, it is in my nature. Most of us say it but we do not know the background and it has to do with racing and betting. The most trusted authorities are considered to be those in closest touch with the recent form of the horse, that is, stable lads, trainers etc. The notional ‘from the horse’s mouth’ is supposed to indicate one step better than even that inner circle, that is, the horse itself.
This is one of those once upon a people of this world time stories.
Like the pests in the household got together one day and decided to hold a major meeting to discuss their survival problems. The roaches, the flies, the mosquitoes, silverfish, fleas and wasps arrived on time and the meeting was called to order. Someone said, one second, where’s the gekko lizard?
They all looked up and saw the lizard on the ceiling.
Come on down, they said, we are waiting for you to get started.
Can’t, said the lizard, you’ll have to do without me.
But we need you, said the group, get down now, this very instant.
Are you all blind, snapped the lizard, if I come down now, who will keep the roof up, fine mess you’ll be when it comes crashing down.
There are people like this lizard. People we meet every day.
Indispensable people. Believing that without them things won’t work, things will come crashing down, systems collapse. And you look at them and say, the first lesson you learn wherever you are is that no one is indispensable. There is always someone ready to takeover…at less cost and probably with better result.
Now, there is nothing wrong in having our illusions but so many of us stick to the ceiling in our upside down fashion and actually believe we are holding up the roof.
All too often the position we hold or the wealth we have accessed leads us into even a deeper delusion about our role in the great scheme of things. You hear people giving themselves away. I have to attend the dinner, they’ll be so upset if I don’t fetch up (they won’t even notice, brother).
My boss depends on me, he values my opinion ( how can anyone be so inutterably naïve). My friends are always asking for my advice, any problem and I get called ( yeah, sure). As usual, I had to save the situation, they were stuck without me (probably created the crisis in the first place). And the lizards, they believe this drivel, they absorb it and use it as fuel. They become the glue that keeps things from falling apart.
I recently read this simple tale. One day, a strong and powerful hound was chasing a hare. After running for a long time, the tired hound gives up the hunt. A herd of goats watching this mocks the hound, saying that the little one is better than the beast. To this, the hound responds: “The rabbit was running for its life, I was only running for dinner. That is the difference between us.”
This is a scary one because it is so close to the bone. Sitting on a lofty rock, an eagle was watching its prey move on the ground. A hunter, watching the eagle from behind a tree, shoots it with an arrow. As the eagle falls to the ground, with blood oozing from its wound, it sees that the arrow is made of its own plumage and thinks: “Alas, I am destroyed by an arrow made from my own feathers”.
Think of it, we so often give our enemies the means for our own destruction. Animal stories can be inspiring in simple quotes. This is one of my favourites.
“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle — when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”
It cannot have been said more brilliantly; you better be running.