There was a young chameleon who wondered what he would do with his life. He sat back one day and thought about the different career paths which were open to him and for which he had the skills to be a success. (Honest self-assessment is truly a valuable thing in making this sort of decision).
After spending several hours reviewing his achievements to date he realized that he must avoid a career where brilliance and excellence were required. His academic record was mediocre at best and he had really pursued his degrees so that he might be able to add those parchments to his resume – hoping that people didn’t delve too deeply into his actual performance.
He began thinking about his other accomplishments but he came up blank. But he did realize that he had two very strong assets which would benefit him. He had a great glib gift of gab – and, because he was a chameleon he felt comfortable taking any side of an issue, depending on the opinion of the person with whom he was speaking, and waxing eloquent on the virtues of his listener’s viewpoint.
This was a Eureka moment for our chameleon friend and his career choice became obvious. He would go into politics.
This choice was an excellent one given the young chameleon’s personality. He gave many speeches which were full of fluff but little substance and this, of course appealed to the electorate who are much more interested in fluff than substance. And so he was elected to office.
It would have been surprising had his election changed his outlook and attitude. It didn’t. He remained in that office for awhile and did nothing of any importance – although he comfortably defended both sides of every issue depending on the person or group with whom he was engaged. That didn’t seem to bother those who had put him in office.
So he took a cue from that and decided that an unthinking electorate ought to be willing to elect him to a higher office. And they did.
Election to this higher office served to reinforce his attitude that it really wasn’t his concern to do anything productive – merely make nice sounding speeches that were filled with fluff and little substance. And he found that the higher the office you held, the more fluff people were willing and anxious to hear.
He also continued his policy – a wise one for any person who wants to succeed in politics – not to make waves and just go with the flow. For this reason he introduced no legislation of any significance in either of his first two elected posts. As he was only one vote among as many as one hundred, no one seemed to notice this.
Well, as Robert Frost put it, “as way leads on to way”, our chameleon was not content to be a small cog in a little machine. It happened that a vacancy for a really big political job opened up – and our friend decided to make a run for it. He employed his tried and true policy of making speeches with a great deal of fluff and not much substance and once again the voters liked what they heard. They voted him into office. He now had the whole enchilada on his plate.
There was only one small drawback to this new position. Unlike his two earlier posts where our chameleon could cloak himself in the obscurity of being only one among many, now he was in charge and people actually began scrutinizing what he said and did. Apparently, in this top job the people suddenly were more interested in substance than in fluff. And our chameleon friend had little to offer in that regard.
Despite this, our chameleon still had a loyal following and his charming way. Since he was a chameleon, he could agree with a group on one side of an issue in the morning and then that afternoon support the opposing view of a different group on the very same topic. This, of course, resulted in a great deal of popularity with members of both groups – until the word that this was happening started to get out.
Where will our friend the chameleon’s career go from here? That page of history has not been written. But there are two important points that we may learn from this brief recap on politics and the chameleon.
Moral I: It can be a good thing “to go with the flow” unless you’re on the Zambezi River headed toward Victoria Falls.
Moral II: A chameleon may change his appearance in order to fit in with his surroundings but a leopard never changes his spots.