The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

THE CONTEMPLATIVE ZEBRA

 

Myron had just celebrated his fifth birthday. From the time that he was a foal he realized that he was a bit different from most of the other zebras in his herd. While other youngsters were happy to suckle from their mothers and do what ever the herd decided to do, Myron realized that there was a bigger world out there which he desired to explore. He had many questions to which he wanted to find answers.

As he looked out on the savanna which was his home, he wondered why it was that the rain only fell at certain times of the year. He wondered why the sky was so blue and why it was always so hot. He wondered whether his girlfriend Leona would ever have the same kind of romantic interest in him that he had in her. But the biggest question which Myron had was whether he was a white animal with black stripes or a black animal with white stripes. This question truly vexed him and he was determined to find an answer to it.

He began looking at other zebras in the herd, counting the number of stripes of each color that they had. (As zebras move around a lot this was not an easy task). And, of course, Myron didn’t want to be seen staring at his subjects so he had to do his count without being very obvious about it. Frequently his subject would move away and he had to start all over again with a new member of the herd.

After pursuing this task for some time he found that the number of black and white stripes varied by individual – leaving Myron no further along than when he had started his investigation. Out of frustration, he decided that the best way to come to a decision would be for him to count his own stripes. But how was he going to accomplish that?

As it happened, the very day that he decided on this plan of action, there was an extremely bright full moon. Myron thought that if he went down to the watering hole he would be able to see his reflection in the water and thus be able to achieve his goal of counting his own stripes. The herd had moved away from the water and had settled in for the evening.

So Myron went down to the water by himself and was delighted that he could indeed see himself reflected on the water’s surface. He began counting his own stripes beginning with the ones on the left side of his body. He was so absorbed in his task that he failed to notice the three lionesses who had stealthily crept up on him. They pounced on Myron and took him home for their pride’s dinner.

Moral: If we spend our time thinking about trivial matters to the exclusion of those things that are of true importance we are likely to get into trouble.

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