Wednesday, July 14, 2004

The Tiger Fable

I re-read one of my favorite stories this morning. The depth of truth in this one small fable astounds me. The story goes something like this:

Once upon a time there was a tigress that was about to give birth. One day when she was out hunting she came upon a herd of goats. Even in her condition, she gave chase and managed to kill one of them. But the stress of the chase forced her into labor and she died as she gave birth to a male cub. The goats, which had run away, returned when they sensed that the danger was over. Approaching the dead tigress, they discovered her newborn cub and adopted him into their herd

The tiger cub grew up among the goats believing he, too, was a goat. He bleated as well as he could, he smelled like a goat, and ate only vegetation. In every respect he behaved like a goat.

All went well until the day that an older tiger approached the goat herd and attacked and killed one of the goats. The rest of the goats ran away as soon as they saw the old tiger, but our tiger/goat saw no reason to run away, of course, for he sensed no danger.

Although the old tiger was a veteran of many hunts, he had never in his life been as shocked as he was when he confronted the young tiger. He did not know what to make of this full-grown tiger that smelled like a goat, bleated like a goat, and in every other way acted like a goat. Being a rather gruff old duffer, and not particularly sympathetic, the old tiger grabbed the young one by the scruff of the neck, dragged him to a nearby creek, and showed him his reflection in the water. The young tiger was unimpressed with his own reflection; it meant nothing to him and he failed to see his similarity to the old tiger.

Frustrated by this lack of comprehension, the older tiger dragged the young one back to the place where he had made his kill. There he ripped a piece of meat from the dead goat and shoved it into the mouth of our young friend.

We can well imagine the young tiger's shock and consternation. At first he gagged and tried spitting out the raw flesh. But the old tiger was determined to show the young one who he really was, so he made sure the cub swallowed this new food. When he was sure the cub had swallowed it all, the old tiger shoved another piece of meat into him, and this time there was a change.

Our young tiger now allowed himself to taste the raw flesh and the warm blood, and he ate this piece with gusto. When he finished chewing, the young tiger stretched, and then, for the first time in his young life, he let out a powerful roar - the roar of the jungle cat. Then the two tigers disappeared together into the forest.

The moral of the story, of course, is that we're all tigers. We live in a world of folks who are convinced they are goats - unaware of the power and potentiality of who they truely are.

1 comment:

kev said...

dude's story challenged me - everyone wants to be "unique", and in many ways we are; basically by the paths we choose. at the same time, we're all human, so the challenging part to me is being comfortable with the "tiger" part and not forcing the issue of trying to find "goat" ways to stand out from the rest. plus, finding ways to show people their reflections can be a daunting task, but worth it.
this post is one example of how to do that - very intriguing web log, el duder.