Monday, December 17, 2012

The Crow and The Pitcher: A Fable for These Times

Jerry Pinkney's The Crow and the Pitcher. From here

In the New York Times yesterday (12/16/12) there was a fascinating essay by Firmin DeBrabander, The Freedom of an Armed Society. DeBrabander argues that freedom is reduced in a gun culture.  He writes:
Our gun culture promotes a fatal slide into extreme individualism. It fosters a society of atomistic individuals, isolated before power — and one another — and in the aftermath of shootings such as at Newtown, paralyzed with fear. That is not freedom, but quite its opposite...Arendt and Foucault reveal that power does not lie in armed individuals, but in assembly — and everything conducive to that.
Later in the day I am reading Jerry Pinkney's Aesop's Fables and stop to consider how The Crow and the Pitcher offers additional insight into the issues before us concerning the use of force.  After reading DeBranbander I was asking myself:  Does living in an armed society lessen our capacity to think, to speculate?  To wonder? To be patient, if not inviting of ambiguity?  Does force lessen wisdom?  Consider what Aesop offered years earlier.

The Crow and the Pitcher

For weeks and weeks there had been no rain. The streams and pools had dried to dust, and all of the animals were thirsty. Two crows, flying together in search of water, spotted a pitcher that had been left on a garden wall. They flew to it and saw that it was half full of water.  But neither one could reach far enough inside the pitcher's narrow neck to get a drink. 
     "There must be a way to get that water, " said the first crow. "If we think it through, we'll find an answer." 
     The second crow tried to push the pitcher over, straining with all of his might. But it was too heavy to budge. "It's hopeless!" he croaked, and flew away to look for water elsewhere. 
     But the first crow stayed by the pitcher and thought, and after a time he had an idea. Picking up some small pebbles in his beak, he dropped them one by one into the pitcher until at last the water rose to the brim. Then the clever bird happily quenched his thirst. 
Wisdom and patience succeed where force fails.

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