Friday Fable. Aesop’s “The Fisherman and His Nets”*

Posted by jlubans on July 17, 2015

Caption: Illustration by John V. Lord.

“A FISHERMAN, engaged in his calling, made a very successful cast and captured a great haul of fish. He managed by a skillful handling of his net to retain all the large fish and to draw them to the shore; but he could not prevent the smaller fish from falling back through the meshes of the net into the sea.”

For so brief a fable, it's a puzzler. Is it about the failings of the net – a design issue - or is it about “big fish” vs. “little fish”? About the wisdom of staying small and un-noticed vs. becoming large and prominent to the “fisherman”? The former lives for another day while the latter dies.
What is the “net”? Something to be avoided; certainly when entrapped, it’s largely over. Or is the “net” destiny and impossible to avoid?
One could conclude that not speaking up in the workplace is a smart career strategy. A. Lincoln’s humorous words come to mind, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” (Alas, those are words I should have heeded more often than I did.)
Yet, Mr. Lincoln spoke out, freeing the enslaved, (at a great cost). Should he instead have remained silent and let things work themselves out?
Sometimes, try as we might to remain a small fish, to go un-noticed, we have to choose between what we believe is right or wrong.

*Source: FABLES By Aesop Translated by George Fyler Townsend (probably from this edition): “Three hundred and fifty Aesop’s fables”. Chicago, Belford, Clarke & Co., 1886.
Available at the Gutenberg Project.

© John Lubans 2015

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