Friday Fable. Lubans’ How the Blackberry Got Its Thorns

Posted by jlubans on September 02, 2016

Caption: The lonely blackberry.

Like Jupiter’s Bee, which dies when it stings an enemy, some solutions are more painful than others.

Once upon a time, when plants could talk, and the blackberry was without thorns, he appealed to Zeus:
“O Zeus,” he said, “I am mightily tired of people thanklessly stealing my fruit. As soon as my berries are sweet my canes are yanked on and, even if some of the fruit is green, clusters of berries are torn away. The worst are the children who come and play under my canes and spend the day gobbling my fruit. They are noisy and they wipe their hands and mouths on my lustrous leaves. Can you stop these outrages?”
“Hmmmm,” said Zeus, twirling his scepter while perusing a catalog of remedies for complaining plants.
“What if I gave you thorns? They will keep humans away by piercing their thin skin, drawing blood; the prickly thorns will keep deer away and birds won’t land on your canes. Is that what you want? Consider carefully.”
“Yes, oh yes,” said the blackberry skipping the consideration part. From that time on he lived in a fortress-like isolation; avoided by all but the most daring, those willing to pay a bloody price.
After a few blissful days of peace and quiet, the blackberry began to suffer a "great loneliness of spirit" as Chief Seattle said. No longer did the deer poke their noses into the bush, nor did the birds sit and chatter on his branches, nor did the children play underneath.
And so it can be at work, or among one's neighbors. The prickly person is left alone, but over time, becomes lonely and wonders why people avoid him; why people fail to include him for a staff lunch or why no one sits down with him for coffee. Worst, few trust him not to lash out and sting; that alone harms teamwork and collaboration.

© Copyright John Lubans 2016

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Posted by Michele lee on September 02, 2016  •  10:52:49

I love this story. It is the perfect metaphor to explain what happens when some of us forget that our gifts are to be shared.

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