Lessing’s THE BLIND HEN*

Posted by jlubans on November 13, 2021

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Caption: Henny Penny 2018

A HEN who had lost her sight, and was accustomed to scratching up the earth in search of food, although blind, still continued to scratch away most diligently.
Of what use was it to the industrious fool?
Another sharp-sighted hen who spared her tender feet, never budged from her side, and enjoyed, without scratching, the fruit of the other's labour.
For as often as the Blind Hen scratched up a barleycorn, her watchful companion devoured it.

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Do you think Lessing, in this fable, is suggesting that the cunning hen is right in exploiting the blind hen?
Do you think he would extend this exploitation to humans?
For Lessing, the blind hen is an “industrious fool”; and what of the “sharp sighted” hen?
An enterprising fowl. The able taking advantage of the disabled.
Or, worse, not only taking advantage but speeding up the blind hen’s starvation.
With a bit of kindness – also known in evolutionary science as cooperation and collaboration – these two could become a tag team, sharing what’s found.
My blogs on Tom the Turkey and Henny Penny
depict the animal world’s pecking orders.
We like to think humans are above this dog-eat-dog mindset, but, each of us probably can identify how some humans are not far removed from animal level cruelty.
Routinely, the anti-social media erupts with fits of human hatred.
Social pathologues, while few in number, despise those with different world views and willingly seek to stifle and persecute the “other”.
Fortunately, many more humans tend to cooperate, collaborate and to exhibit kindness and fairness.

*SOURCE: Lessing, Fables, Book I, No. 30. Translated by G. Moir Bussey.
Excerpted From: Cooper, Frederic Taber, 1864-1937. “An argosy of fables; a representative selection from the fable literature of every age and land.” New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company. 1921.

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© Copyright text and photo John Lubans 2021

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