The Paws and The Big Rock … a Fable

I wrote this post in January 2016, over five years ago, at which time I had few readers and the post received a whopping 4 views. It is one of my very rare forays into fiction writing, for as a rule fiction is not my strong suit.  I think this post is still relevant and explains some things about human nature and perhaps how we have come to be where we are today.

In the Ocean, somewhere off the east coast of the Continent, there is a small island.  On this island live a number of happy critters called “southpaws”.  The southpaws have lived on the island for as long as anyone can remember and they are a great little bunch of critters.  They take care of themselves and each other, always willing to help out their neighbors in times of trouble.

One day a northpaw, a critter very similar to the southpaws, came to the island looking for a new place to live.  He said he wanted to get away from the violence and the way of life on the Continent and was seeking a home where he and his little family could live in peace.  The southpaws knew of northpaws, of course, but had never had one living on their little island, so at first they were leery of the northpaw, but he seemed like a nice enough critter, so they agreed to let him live on the island.

For a long time, all was well.  The northpaw worked hard to fit in, growing his food and sharing with southpaws, as they shared with him.  Then one day the northpaw went to the mainland to visit family and when he returned, he brought with him a big rock.  Though there were no big rocks on the island, the southpaws remembered a time, many years before, when a big rock salesman had come to the island trying to sell big rocks to the southpaws.  Though he tried his best to convince the southpaws that they all needed big rocks to protect themselves, he had been laughed off the island by the southpaws, for they had no need to protect themselves against each other, only against the storms that sometimes raged, and a big rock was of absolutely no use against a storm.

“What’s with the big rock?” asked the southpaws.

“It’s to protect my family,” replied the northpaw.

Now, the southpaws were confused by this, but they were a peace-loving people, so while they may have smiled indulgently at the northpaw, they said nothing more and went on with their lives.  Eventually the big rock was forgotten.  Life went on happily for the southpaws and the northpaw, and eventually some of the northpaws cousins from the mainland came to visit.  The southpaws welcomed them with their usual celebration of fresh fruit, music and dancing.  As the party progressed, one of the northpaws, his belly full of fresh fruit, got a little feisty and started an argument with a southpaw.  Nobody knows what was said, or why the argument started, but eventually it escalated and the northpaw went to his cousin’s house, got the big rock, and smashed the southpaw in the head, killing him.

After this, the southpaws wanted the northpaw, the one who lived on the island, to get rid of the big rock.  Nobody had ever been killed on the island before, and it seemed to the southpaws that the big rock was the reason their friend was dead and they wanted the big rock gone.  The northpaw refused, and things were never to be quite the same again between the southpaws and the northpaw, although eventually they settled back into a peaceful coexistence.

Many years passed, and a few more northpaws moved to the island, some with big rocks, others without.  The southpaws never forgot the incident from the past, but they moved on, living as they always had, helping those who needed help and living their lives peacefully.  One night after everyone was asleep for the night, two northpaws had too much fresh fruit and decided that they would take their big rocks to the beach and have a contest to see who could throw their big rocks the furthest.  Well, one thing led to another, more northpaws joined in the party, and before long the northpaws were making so much noise that the southpaws came down to the beach to see what the racket was all about.  Big rocks were flying everywhere, and three of the southpaws were hit in the head and killed.

The very next day, the peddler, who had many years before, come around trying to sell big rocks to the southpaws returned to the island.  The southpaws didn’t even come out of their dwellings, as they were mourning the loss of their fellow southpaws, but the northpaws eagerly crowded around the peddler.  The northpaws regretted what had happened the night before, but they were truly afraid now that the southpaws would attack them in retaliation.  The peddler assured them that if they had more big rocks, the southpaws would be afraid to retaliate and they would all be much safer, so the northpaws all traded their fresh fruit and other items for as many big rocks as they could get.

The southpaws, meanwhile, had no desire to retaliate against the northpaws, but they did want to clear the island of big rocks.  The loss of three of their own was too much to bear and they feared that this was only the beginning.  So, they held a meeting and chose the oldest southpaw, a well-respected member of the community, to talk to the northpaws and ask that all the big rocks be thrown in the ocean.  Well, the northpaws, now owning hundreds of big rocks, refused, saying that everyone on the island must own a big rock.  This led to harsh words between the northpaws and southpaws.  Harsh words led to pawfights and eventually pawfights led to northpaws slaughtering the southpaws with big rocks.  Soon there were only northpaws on the island, and with no southpaws to smash with big rocks, the northpaws began killing each other with their big rocks.  And soon, the island was inhabited by only a few big, fat, lazy northpaws and the landscape, once a beautiful beach, was now covered in big rocks.

The moral of the story is that more big rocks do not make the island safer.

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