Our dog Papi hated lettuce, until we started feeding it to the chicks. Suddenly it seems to be among his favorite snacks, when he can steal it from them. In the kitchen he still doesn’t like it. This makes me consider once again the nature of our natures and I’m reminded of the parable about the frog and the scorpion.
I’ve always hated this tale, because while I feel I’m perpetually playing the frog, others mistake me often for the scorpion. Being convinced that I am the frog is not because I have delusions that we are not all self-interested beings. I know, for better or worse, it is what has allowed us to thrive– the dog, as much as the frog, or the man, or the plant. I know I’m the frog because I have always been gullible, the scurvy of the optimist. I’ve always been over-ready to allow words or appearances to supersede actions and sometimes even common sense. I think I’m not the only one.
So I’ve decided to update the frog and scorpion tale to suit my own life better. The frog will be a chick and the scorpion a black lab. Instead of a trip across the river the sweet and friendly lab pup begs the chicks to play his provocative but seemingly innocent chasing game through the meadow. At long last his charming pants convince them, it’s a beautiful day and he clearly means no harm.
That black lab, just look at that face, how could he possibly be the scorpion? Has he not so far obeyed orders, sometimes under great pressure to indulge his instincts? But just the flap of a wing and he is on high alert. It’s so very lucky for those chicks that he is well-supervised now, under constant surveillance. If only they knew, those poor little chicks, how their natural moves provoke him. He cannot help that at all. Any more than they can. He’s still playing the patient watch dog, for now. I know he is surely not capable of strategically planning his next move, but just you wait, one of these times that seemingly innocent little flap will provoke a tragic end to their already shortly numbered days in the meadow.
The moral of my new twist to the story? A seemingly careless little misstep or two made out of innocence or ignorance are still missteps with fatal potential.