Scarcity and Abundance: A Fable (Work in Process)
There once was a series of islands called Myasma. On Mysama lived animals big and small, and the largest of them were the Elephants.
One day, the Elephants realized they were running out of food. They realized they were running out of food, but when they looked across the river, they saw the smoke stack and knew that the herd across the river was cooking.
Since Elephants can’t swim nor can they get on boats, they wanted to enlist their friends in neighboring herds to help them obtain some food on the other side. They decided to send Elephant Messenger through the island.
Elephant Messenger first went to Chameleon. Chameleon knew that Elephant Messenger was coming and greeted him brightly.
You must help us, cried Elephant Messenger. We are running out of food and we believe there is food on the other side of the river. Can you help us?
Pray. Said Chameleon. Be grateful for what you have. If you are to move across the river, then God will provide a way.
The Elephant Messenger wasn’t sure if Chameleon was joking. But we need the food now. What can we do?
Be patient, said the Chameleon. All will be revealed in time.
Visit the land of the Leopards. They will be able to help you.
The Elephant Messenger went deeper and deeper into the forest. Why wouldn’t the Chameleon help us, he thought? Perhaps they don’t know how and they are pointing the way to someone who does. Or, perhaps they do and there is some secret riddle to unlock.
The Elephant decided to pray, just in case.
Dear God. Please bring my community food. There was a pause. Nothing happened. If the community were to get food, perhaps it would take some time. Elephant Messenger waited. He waited all night to see signs of a smoke stack coming from his herd. He saw nothing.
Elephant Messenger rose in the morning to a group of leopards surrounding it. Even though Elephant Messenger knew it could unleash all his power and crush the leopards, he decided to wait and see how they respond to strangers:
Why are you here? They asked. I am looking for food for my herd, said the Elephant. And we believe there is plenty of food on the other side of the river.
The Leopards began to clamor. Yes, our enemy is on the other side of the river. They are hunting and keeping all the game. We plan to go there and take back what belongs to everyone.
Elephant Messenger became excited! The Leopards had ideas and action plans. As the Elephant began to listen, he realized that the ideas and action plan required a lot more people and man-power. Where is the rest of your herd, he asked, looking at the 5 leopards that sat before him.
We are the only ones, said one leopard.
I can help! Said the Elephant. Even though the plan seemed daunting, perhaps if he could enlist other herds, he could get the job done.
He went to the birds first. There were nearly hundreds in the flock and they had the energy and precision to do a great deal of work. He told them of his herd’s need of food and a part of the plan to get food from the other side of the river. The birds began to chirp to one another. The Elephant could not understand their chirping, but they did so with tremendous intensity.
After several hours of chirping, the birds finally responded in a language the Elephant could understand. Instead of having a simple yes or no answer, they proceeded to ask him a very long list of questions.
How many smoke stacks did you see across the lake? they asked. If the herds on the other side are cooking a lot of food, then we would know that by the number of smoke stacks we see.
How wide is the river?
How much does the herd eat and will the herd grow in the next year?
Can the Elephants eat new things?
And so it went. The Elephant thought that some of the questions were very good questions and could help make the plan stronger. The Elephant thought some of the questions didn’t really matter for the plan. This did not bother the birds. They loved to chirp and raise questions. They loved to chirp and provide responses to questions. They flapped their wings and continue to chirp and they encouraged each other. Some were willing to help while others continued the lively chirping. The Elephant wanted them all to help, but was happy to at least have a few birds on the team.
Next, the Elephant went to the Fireflies. There were many, many fireflies and it appeared as if the fireflies could illuminate the world with their light and inspiration. The Elephant sat in awe. Some created complex patterns with their light. Some created graceful and elegant glows. What was consisted was that the Fireflies gave the Elephant hope and made him think – and not in ways that he could predict.
Will you help us, The Elephant asked the Fireflies at last.
Yes, some of them said. We can help inspire the others and light a path unseen.
The Elephant Messanger looked around and began to count. He became dismayed. There were not enough animals to help get across the river. It didn’t make sense. Nothing added up.
The Elephant went back to the Chameleon. I prayed and nothing happened, he barked. Ah, but it has, said the Chameleon. You now have birds talking to leopards talking to fireflies. You are building connections that never existed.
But who cares, replied the Elephant. My herd will still go hungry. No matter how much praying or questions or inspiration or plans we make, they will still go hungry. Those animals across the river still have the food we don’t have.
Ah, said the Chameleon. They also do not have things that you have.
Now the Elephant was getting angry. I don’t care! I just want to feed my herd.
Well, if you don’t care about them, why should they care about you?
The Elephant walked away, still perturbed. The Chameleon was of no help, and it made his stomach growl. I could just trample on all these animals, the Elephant thought. I will trample on them and maybe they will finally feel what I am feeling.
The Elephant thought it would try the Chameleon’s idea one more time.
He explained to the animals that instead of taking the food from the other island, we could also ask what the other side needs.
They don’t need anything, said one Leopard. Look how many smoke stacks they have.
They can see we don’t have as much as them. And they continue to take. And take. They are bad. All of them!
The Elephant felt guilty for trying a new idea. Why did my herd send me anyway, the Elephant thought. Nothing is going to work. We will eventually die.
Suddenly, the Elephant saw a mouse. The Elephant Messenger is terrified of mice! The Elephant screamed so loud that all the animals could hear it. Since they believed the Elephant to be strong and unafraid, they assumed that the threat must be terrible. All the animals began to scream.
When the Elephant stopped, and the other animals stopped, they could still hear the rumble of yelling. The animals across the river were also screaming.
Then there was silence.
I figured it out! The Elephant shrieked. He thought about the Chameleon.
Did you figure out what scared them so we could go there and attack? asked the Leopards with excitement.
Did you come up with a new hypothesis about them that we could test? asked the birds. Their wings began flapping.
Did you realize something new in the light of our inspiration? asked the Fireflies.
I figured it out. The Elephant repeated, almost at a whisper:
The animals on the other side are us.
All this time I have been asking for food. And I will need your help to get it. It will be easy to obtain food if we work together.
The Elephant Messenger raised his head and looked off into the distance. But along my journey I began to dislike the animals on the other island and I began to love you all very much.
When I became frightened, you did not shun me. In fact you joined me and I didn’t feel as scared because we were all together. When we stopped, I heard the other island yelling too. It made me remember we are all animals. We are them. And I cannot love you fully unless I love them too. They are us.
And on this day The Elephant Messenger brought a feast to his herd and fulfillment to his heart.