Lessing’s THE LION AND THE HARE*

Posted by jlubans on June 12, 2020

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Caption: Even the clergy do it.

A LION once honored a Hare with his friendship. "Is it really a fact," asked the Hare, "that the crowing of a miserable cock is enough to scare you Lions into running away?"
"Such is undoubtedly the case," replied the Lion. "And it is a general truth that we larger animals, almost all of us, have some one foolish weakness.
For example, you yourself must have heard that the grunting of a pig will astonish and terrify an elephant."
"Indeed!" interrupted the Hare.
"Ah! now I understand why we Hares are so terribly afraid of a dog."

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For me, this fable
illuminates how we humans, when listening to another’s hardship, chime in with one of our own, whether pertinent or nonsensical.
Our empathetic listening turns into one-ups-manship: “If you think you’ve got it bad, listen to what happened to me!”
I once belonged to a national group of 25 or so directors in a sub-field of higher education. Our go-around for sharing information on local challenges inevitably snowballed into carping.
Each subsequent speaker would raise the ante of just how bad she or he was having it. After the first director started with a mild mention of local challenges we would wind up, by director #25 with a jeremiad.

*Source: Lessing, Fables, Book I, No. 8. Translated by G. Moir Bussey as excerted in Cooper, Frederic Taber, 1864-1937. “An argosy of fables; a representative selection from the fable literature of every age and land.”

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© Copyright John Lubans 2020

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