Posts Tagged ‘Aesop’

Will vs. Nature: My Aesopian Revival

July 10, 2009 11 comments

scorpion and frogThere was a scorpion who wanted to cross the river after the rain had waned. “How can I cross this torrent when I don’t even know how to swim,” the scorpion said to himself as if he had another self who would reply to his question. He stared at the deep water whose current had grown very violent because of the storm. He pitied himself for his incapability to conquer such problem, so he forlornly waited for the water to ebb.

Eventually, during the rainy season, frogs by their amphibic nature came leaping from the thick pickets of leaves and swam to the ponds down to the river. They were the creatures who hailed their vespers on rainy season better than on summer; they were the ones who received rain with earnest gratitude, for water sustained their lives: too perennial for the perpetuity of their kind. These joyful species danced and sung in chorus now that the rainy season had finally begun. However, from the large group of amphibians, a green frog got lost in the crowd and preferred to find a good shade to rest. Then he chose to rest on the bank where he could look at the water to calm his mind. When he reached the bank, he noticed the scorpion atop a dry dead bark looking sadly at the gushing river.

“What’s wrong brother scorpion?” he asked jovially. “I want to cross this river and be at home before night fall to avoid the danger of being eaten by rats and nocturnal birds,” answered the scorpion. “Should you have the heart to carry me on your back, I will be able to cross to the other end by mid-day.” The frog suddenly felt compassion for the scorpion but remained reluctant to carry him.  “How will I know, by the way, that you would not sting me when we get to the middle,” he asked the scorpion. “Because  that would be my own death as well, we will both drown,” replied the scorpion.  “What about when I get close to the bank? You could still try to kill me and get back to the shore!” stressed the frog as he began to look suspicious of what might be the outcome. ” Brother frog, I don’t really know how to swim. I could not dare do that,” said the scorpion. But the frog became incredulous over such matter and asked a wise question. “Brother, i know that the moment we successfully cross to other side, you could still kill me. How would I know then if I can still go back safe to the other side?”  “This is true brother, ” agreed the scorpion. “Yet, by that time, I will be filled with gratitude that I could no longer think of anything aside from thanking you.”

After giving a thought  and driven by so much compassion towards the scorpion,   the frog lowered his back and helped the scorpion up. They jumped into the water and started to cruise their way to the other side. Not far from the point of their departure, the frog felt the weight of the scorpion getting heavier. Then he felt a pang of pain and his body became numb – the scorpion stung him! And as they were drowning in the middle of the river, he furiously asked the scorpion. “Why did you do that, you fool?  Traitor!” The scorpion replied. “Brother frog, it is my nature to do that. You should have thought of it before agreeing with me. ”


P.S. 1. Let me  borrow the line of Giancarlo Livraghi in his essay, The Power of Stupidity:

The concept is applied in all sorts of ways to the analysis of history, or of recent events, on the “dark” side of human behavior.
There are countless variations. In a Lebanese version, the scorpion’s final words are «My dear, this is the Middle East». And, of course, this could apply to several other places.
There are infinite ways in which someone can be placed in the role of the scorpion – or the frog. In this irritating tale there is a disturbing truth: it really happens that people behave in incomprehensible manners with no excuse other than, “that is my nature”.
There is no aesopian “moral” of this fable. Its strongest meaning is that it can’t be explained. It’s the essence of stupidity (harming others at one’s own disadvantage) taken to its extreme consequences. A disease that lies deep in human nature. There are many examples, practically every day. We can laugh when they are just funny. But some are dismally tragic.

2. Are you acting out of your nature or by will?