Saturday, September 30, 2006

Post No. 87: The Lion and the Sheep

What follows below is an edited and translated version of an interesting & thought-provoking short story that I got from “ZBNow” (《早报现在》, 17/7/2006).

Lion: King of all animals, carnivore: eats raw meat and never go near bland vegetation, proud, strong, powerful, armed with sharp claws & fangs and what it wants is what it gets.

Sheep: The opposite of the Lion, easily contented with what it has, has no special abilities, herbivore: contented to eat grass and so everywhere on the grass plains, it can find food.

A long long time ago, in a place far far away, two lions decided to explore the grass plains together. They started to run and run. Soon, they were very far away from the part of the grass plains they were familiar with. And they were lost, being unable to find their way to the part of the grass plains they were familiar with. To make matters worse, they were hungry and there were no signs of any animals anywhere nearby for them to hunt down and devour.

Lost and hungry, the two lions started to panic and run in different directions to find food. However, the more they ran, the more lost and hungrier they got. There were just no signs of any animals, small or big, anywhere on the vast grass plains for the lions to prey on.

Then, suddenly, there was a voice coming out of the sky saying to one of the lions: “You can become a sheep if you want to”.

This lion thought about it and decided to succumb. In the instant this lion decided to become a sheep, it became one. This ex-lion and now sheep started to voraciously chew on the grass which was in abundant supply around it. It wasn't used to or comfortable with doing this at first but as time passed by, it got used to it. Sometimes, this lion-sheep thought, for the sake of survival, one have no choice but to compromise.

On the other hand, the other lion was still running. It has also heard the voice coming out of the sky but it refused to succumb. In its mind, it thought: “I am a lion! I am the king of all animals! I have my dignity and reputation to protect! I can't succumb to eating grass!” This lion continued to run, in the hope that some animal would appear in its sight for it to feed on.

As it ran, the voice from the sky kept on repeating: “You can become a sheep if you want to”. However, this lion didn't stop running. It continued to run.

Yet, soon, after no one knows how long, this lion's pace began to slow down. It got slower and slower. Finally, it stopped and collapsed, never to get up again.

Days later, from out of nowhere, a countless number of sheep began to appear on the grass plains. They were all silent, bowing their heads down to eat the grass below them. It was no delicacy but it was better than starving to death. Nearby, the skeleton of the lion which refused to give up still stood, desolate yet awe-inspiring at the same time.

Well, if it was you, which will you choose: to eat grass or to continue running?

1 comment:

Rowen said...

When a person starts in his career, he is like a lion. Wanting to devour others and make a name of himself with determination and ambition. However, along the way, the society, responsiblities and his own capabilities forces him to become the sheep of the society. Perhaps the voice would be that of a soul mate, of the family sole bread winner responsibilty.

I guess being a lion or a sheep would depends on what a person wants in life. what is his or her aims or what do he wants to make of it. Some people may say better being a sheep and alive than a dead lion.

In your analogy the second lion did not find an opportunity to feed which is sad. I guess in life there are many cases like these. cases of failure in ventures by businessmen, failure in relationships, failure in understanding the system.

Or there is a third path in which your analogy did not go to say. did the first lion change his mind and feed the sheep which came later? or did he forget what it is like to be a lion?

In chinese history, the king of Yue submitted to the king of wu and became a sheep but he never forgot that he was a lion and he fulfilled his ambition when the sheep returned and with the aid of xishi.

In singapore we overlook people who fail and overglorify people who succeed.

Good story and nice writing.

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