Friday Fable. Aesop’s “THE LION, THE BEAR, AND THE FOX”*

Posted by jlubans on April 16, 2015

20150417-bear_lion_fox1.jpg
Caption: A bear, mournful; a lion, regal; a fox, sly.

“Just as a great Bear rushed to seize a stray kid, a Lion leaped from another direction upon the same prey. The two fought furiously for the prize until they had received so many wounds that both sank down unable to continue the battle.
Just then a Fox dashed up, and seizing the kid, made off with it as fast as he could go, while the Lion and the Bear looked on in helpless rage.
"’How much better it would have been,’ they said, ‘to have shared in a friendly spirit.’"

“Those who have all the toil do not always get the profit.”

And so it can be at work. The research library where I worked was once in the running for a wealthy donor’s gift. We thought we had the inside track. The potential donor had related, nostalgically, more than once, how when he was a poor farm boy the library had waived the rules and loaned him books. The library director’s kindness started him on the road to success. He was now a millionaire many times over. The gift felt like a done deal; maybe enough money for a much needed new wing on the library?
Lo, who should pop up as the cunning fox? None other than the dean of the business school who somehow got special dispensation to pitch his idea to the donor. The dean got the gift while the library got nothing.
Well, not exactly nothing. At the dedication of the business building named after him, the donor told the library story once again, about how wonderful the librarian had been and how he helped him on his way, a Horatio Alger story for these modern times!
Perhaps this is a more apt illustration for what can go on in the academic fund raising world:
20150417-bear__lion__two_thieves.jpg
Caption: Honoré Victorin Daumier’s (1808-1879) two thieves duking it out while a third runs off with the donkey!

*Source: Aesop for Children (translator not identified). Illustrations by Milo Winter (1886-1956). Chicago: 
Rand McNally & Company, 1919. Available online at Project Gutenberg.

Leading from the Middle Library of the Week: University of Victoria Libraries
Victoria BC, Canada

© John Lubans 2015

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