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AlexReynard

A fable

Once upon a time there was a wide green valley at the edge of a forest. In this valley lived a peaceful flock of sheep, guarded by a collie dog.

The sheep loved the collie dog very much. They saw him as gentle and wise. He would listen to their problems, and help out wherever he could. He would help them find food. He would get them unstuck from bramble bushes. He would circle the flock every day, around and around, barking to let them know when one had wandered off too far. The little lambs would beg him to play. And even though the collie dog was always busy, he always found time to chase the little lambs and pounce on them and tickle them, to their delight.

The collie dog had been protecting the sheep for many, many years. He had seen wolves and bears and mountain lions in the forest. He had seen these predators carry off sheep and kill them and eat them. He did not ever want that to happen again. At night he told the sheep stories of the dangers in the forest, so they would know what to be alert for while he slept.

The sheep had been protected for so long, many of them had forgotten what a predator looked like. Some had lived their whole lives without ever seeing one.

Gradually, the sheep began to grow restless. They wanted to wander from the valley and decide for themselves where to go. Some of the sheep rolled their eyes when the collie dog barked at them. Some of them bleated back.

And then, without anyone realizing where it had come from, the idea began to spread that the collie dog was imprisoning them.

"The collie dog is so terribly rude with his loud barking!" one sheep said.

"I feel afraid when he tells those awful stories," said another.

"Sometimes I see him yawn, and I see his wide mouth and huge sharp teeth, and know he's not really yawning, he's threatening me," said another.

"I'm not comfortable letting the lambs be near him," said another.

The sheep continued to murmur. Each day they would discuss the collie dog, analyzing his behavior to unravel the true motivation behind it. They gathered as far away from him as the valley would allow. And the less they saw of him, the more their memories changed. Each day they remembered something else the collie dog had done that was horrible. And whichever sheep recalled the most horrible memory would be praised by the flock.

Some sheep still remembered the predators, or had lost loved ones to their attacks, and tried to warn the others. They were ostracized. Fools who believed the collie dog's obvious lies. Traitors to the flock. Some sheep went missing by the morning. The collie dog was blamed.

Finally the sheep voted to declare their independence. They elected a representative, who led the flock to confront the collie dog. They told him all they had uncovered about his tyrannical behavior, and ordered him to leave.

The collie dog was shocked, confused, and deeply hurt. He tried to plead his case.

The flock's representative rushed forward and butted the collie dog with his horns. And in a flash, all the other sheep rushed forward too.

There followed a terrible chaos.

Afterward, the collie dog lay bruised and defeated. He picked himself up and limped away, out of the valley. When he looked back, the sheep jeered at him and kicked dirt. Some, who had kept silent, wanted to leave and follow the collie dog. But they dared not in front of the others.

That night, the sheep celebrated their freedom. Now they could do whatever they wanted! Go and see and say and think whatever they wanted, with nobody to stop them!

In the morning, a pack of wolves appeared at the edge of the forest.

The sheep went out to greet them warmly, apologizing for the terrible lies they had been told about their kind.

The survivors blamed the collie dog.
Viewed: 97 times
Added: 1 month ago
 
Thaddeus
1 month ago
Oof.
ModularDragon
1 month ago
the morale: never do good to others, they will forget it and blame you...
AlexReynard
1 month ago
I kinda hate that I can't think of a good argument against that interpretation...
Blackpaw
1 month ago
deleted comment
Winterimage
1 month ago
That sounds not very unlike the current political situation in Europe. Only here, we the sheep are actually electing the wolves. But we still blame the collie dog.
AlexReynard
1 month ago
I'm seeing a lot of that in politics. People get so whipped up into hating the other side, they don't look to see if their own is behaving any better.

Hell, I probably unconsciously plagiarized Tommy Douglass' Mouseland speech for this.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkoKLXcZbu0
moyomongoose
1 month ago
I kind of saw the same thing myself.
Blackpaw
1 month ago
not sure i like the takeaway on this.  its still better to help and protect those who dont understand or know any better than to leave them to die.
AlexReynard
1 month ago
Certainly. I know that, despite all the shit I've been through in my life, I still try to be open and kind and forgiving, if nothing else for my own sake. I tried not to make this be about any specific ism or incident. It's about something that is inherently in humanity, and we have to be watchful of. I've seen this kind of trust erosion happen in innumerable places. It's not just people making decisions based on fear, but on it becoming fashionable for people who want to appear smart to say that good things are bad and bad things are good. The Disney Chicken Little short (not the CGI movie) did an excellent job illustrating this.
SenGrisane
1 month ago
Wow. A very sad story. But we'll done.
AlexReynard
1 month ago
Thanks. I woke up with basically this whole thing in my head and rushed to write it down.
Alfador
1 month ago
Vote for the Leopards Eating Your Face Party!
AlexReynard
1 month ago
The thing that first sparked me noticing this behavior was years ago, the fish panel in this comic: https://i0.wp.com/leftycartoons.com/wp-content/uploads/...
ChastityCoyote
1 month ago
Alex, if you never understood trunalimunumaprzure, you just kicked its ass anyway...

All these years youve never folded to BS.  I want so bad to buy you a beer or three and shake your hand...

Anyway, There is going to be some rough rows to hoe ahead,The politicians and a big chunk of the population have lost their collective minds.

This wonderful fable you wrote isnt so much a fable really.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Corint...

Religion stuff aside, both still hit it on the head.
AlexReynard
1 month ago
You made me look up a word. Congrats.

>All these years youve never folded to BS.  I want so bad to buy you a beer or three and shake your hand...

That's about the nicest compliment I could hope for. Really, it's a secret no deeper than, recognize the behavior that's bullshit, not any single group, and that it doesn't come from any system or idea, but from us. We ain't grown up yet, collectively.

>The politicians and a big chunk of the population have lost their collective minds.

I do have hope we'll get through this. Like, at least we have better communication than ever before in history to observe and discuss all the bullshit. And we're murdering each other a lot less over this bullshit than previous generations' bullshit. As some dude said, "the first caveman to throw an insult instead of a stone was the founder of civilization".

>Religion stuff aside, both still hit it on the head.

Danke. And I never thought this was an original idea. I'm sure it's been observed and warned against, fruitlessly, through the eons. I just try to find a new way to say things so they seem new and go down easier. Being concise, entertaining, AND accurate can be a chore though!
RassyEyefur
1 month ago
It made me sad for the collie dog, but I guess sometimes the sheep need to learn by making the mistake. This is if they live to learn from it.

I had an incident at a job 2 months back, I said to my boss he needed to do a thing a particular way. he just brushed it off because it was slightly harder to do than the way he was doing the job. So I just said "Ok" and went about the task I had been doing, knowing full well he was going to have an issue when he put everything together.  One and half hours later he came back and wanted to know why I hadn't stopped him wasting all that time because now he could see why it had to be done the way I had suggested in the first place.  I simply replied "I gave you the information, you made the decision."  I did however stop what I was doing and help him fix the huge mess he had made.

To quote a line from Gazelle's (Shakira's) hit song "Try Everything": Nobody learns without getting it wrong.
AlexReynard
1 month ago
I admire the balls it took to be so direct with your boss like that. Something I learned the hard way, over a long period of time, is that you should not destroy yourself trying to help someone who will not listen. Not just getting upset in internet fights, but seeing a friend suffer from mistakes they won't correct, and realizing that you can either leave and let them learn, or be pulled down too. My philosophy now is exactly yours: I give my advice, and that's my obligation fulfilled. From that point on, it's my choice if I do more, and that choice largely depends on, 'Will this be a wasted effort? Will I get less than nothing out of this? Or is this person demonstrating a will to change that justifies me finding a bit more faith in them?'
RassyEyefur
1 month ago
I think it comes with age, and the fact I was fairly critical to the business and unlikely to get fired. In my younger years I probably would have handled it differently, as in taken the blame and appologised.

But wisdom takes a life time to get, and by the time your old enough to recognise the wisdom of others, you probably don't need it as much, because you've blundered you way there anyway.

Being there to help pick up the pieces in some cases is actually more beneficial to the person in the long run than trying to out right stop them before they have made the mistake and learnt from it.  If they haven't learnt from the mistake that's when things get more complicated, because you don't want to be dragged down with them. But I guess that is what you were saying about them changing and you being able to find more faith in them.
AlexReynard
1 month ago
>But wisdom takes a life time to get

I have definitely grappled with the kinda-horrifying thought that, maybe all the words I spout out trying to make a difference are unlikely to, simply because wisdom does come from age and experience. Maybe all I can hope for is helping someone not make the same mistake twice.

>But I guess that is what you were saying about them changing and you being able to find more faith in them.

More like, I have friends who have flaws, but they're aware of them, and even if they might take years to make a dent in them, they do ask for help and do show progress. Also, I have family who made it clear to me that they will react with hostility whenever it's pointed out that their behavior is harmful, because they see themselves as a victim and everyone else should change so they don't have to, because it's too haaaaaaaard. Fuck them.
MrZero
1 month ago
I hate everything about how widely applicable this story is. Good writing work, then.
AlexReynard
1 month ago
Thanks at least for letting me know I succeeded in my aim. I tried really hard to prevent any, 'Aha! It's really about [ideology, group, or incident]!' because experience has taught me, then conversation will shift to nitpicking the specific subject, and ignoring the wider meaning that this is shit human beings do, and we might all be susceptible to it if we're not careful.
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