Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Microstory 1268: The Fables and the Introduction

At some point, on or before March 2, 2015, I read an Aesop Fable called The Scorpion and the Frog. It’s about a frog who tries to help a scorpion cross a river, but before they reach the other side, the latter stings the former, which of course, drowns them both. The moral of the lesson here is that people can’t change, but I call bullshit on that. In fact, this whole series is going to be about calling bullshit on some of the terrible lessons I found during my research. I only have room for thirty-one fables, so I can’t cover them all, but that’s not the point. By reading these, as well as the original texts—which I’ll link for you—maybe it’ll help you become a more critical person. You see, when the average individual reads this fable, they accept the lesson it gives them, but just because someone wrote it down for you, doesn’t mean it’s right. I’m not talking about misinterpreting the moral here; I’m talking about a bad moral, which I believe is harmful to society, even in some small way. The reality is that fables are by no means indicative of the way things are in general, even though they purport to be. If you read a single news article about a black man going out and stealing a car, you might conclude that black people are bad, and/or that they’re thieves. What the article doesn’t do is tell you about all the white people that steal the cars, or—more importantly—all the good things that black people do, or even the good that that particular man has done in his life. You’ve only read one article, and no matter how many articles you read, you haven’t read everything about everybody. You can’t read these little #MondayMotivation, #TransformationTuesday, #WednesdayWisdom, #ThursdayThoughts, and #FearlessFriday posts, and expect to truly learn something from them. Life is not a series of snapshots, sewn together to tell a story, and easily teased apart when you want to tell a shorter part of the story. The whole story is what holds the lesson. Don’t take me to mean you can’t ever share stories. Just be careful. Everyday is a chance for improvement, but more to the point, all days combined are available for improvement.

So when I read that story about the scorpion and the frog, I decided to rework it into a fable that I believed to be superior. In the end, the scorpion does not sting the fox. (I likely changed the animal just because I like foxes.) The lesson here is that you can’t put people in boxes. Each individual is an array of characteristics which, even knowing every entry into the array, is not enough to understand them. If you think you know a person, you are doing them, and yourself, a disservice by presuming they could never do anything unexpected, or perhaps better. So while I hope you get something out of these updated fables, don’t focus on any one of them too much. Use them to question the world a little more, and not simply accept what’s been put in front of you. There are people out there, especially on social media, who are working really hard to find some way of summarizing some incredibly complicated issues in 280 characters or less. Be wary of these. Even if they come with some truly good advice—and aren’t just meaningless aphoroids (look that word up, and keep it in the back of your mind at all times)—they only give you part of the story. Life is complicated, and you can’t boil it down. It takes a hundred years to understand a hundred years of it, and despite what people tell you, there aren’t really any shortcuts. Those people are trying to sell you something. Even if they’re not asking for your money, they’re asking for your attention. That’s what I’m doing right now, and this installment keeps getting longer, because I keep realizing how impossible it is to simplify the lesson. So I’ll end it here, so you can move on, and I hope that these Revised Fables aren’t just as absurd as the ones that I’m trying to improve.

PS: Speaking of length, these stories will be a lot shorter than normal, but still probably longer than most original fables.

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