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Every life form has a few defense mechanisms that are unique to it. Some people use intelligence, while others employ physical strength. A few of them try to strike a balance between the two.

The story I am going to present, highlights the plight of those who adhere to instructions of seniors or mentors sincerely, according to their understanding, without applying the situational variations. One may call them gullible or dumb, but one can always spot a few of them. The complication arises when such people interact with others in society or an organization. Why take the example of a human being? After all, we belong to the same class. So, I have chosen an animal as the main character in this story.

There was a prosperous village buzzing with economic activities. The village had inhabitants of all age groups, and they were busy with their respective work the whole day. They faced a peculiar problem in their day-to-day activities due to the appearance of a serpent in their midst.

The serpent was agile, and could appear from anywhere, at any time. It was not afraid when someone approached it with a stick to ward it off. Instead, it would charge the individual, and even bite. Its bite had harmed one or two villagers.

Generally, people do not kill serpents. As the villagers found it difficult to catch it, they were in a predicament. In that situation, some elderly men decided to approach a Sage who stayed away from the village in an isolated location. They knew that the Sage was conversant with the language of the animals. So, a few of them went and met him and presented their problem about the serpent.

The Sage arrived in the village, met with the serpent, and then left. The villagers did not find the serpent for a few days. They gained relief from their fears to some extent, but they were curious where the serpent had gone. Hunger forces people to seek food. So was the case with the serpent. It came out from its hiding place occasionally in search of rodents. But, its nature was different now. Even if someone tried to drive it away, it did not react harmfully. Some people took advantage of the situation and started hurting the serpent. Consequently, the serpent had to retreat and go without food for weeks and months. Its physical condition gradually deteriorated.

The Sage happened to know about the plight of the serpent and took pity on it. He met the serpent and inquired about the reasons for its deteriorating health.
The serpent told the Sage:
“Dear Sage, I hold you in high esteem. I follow your advice devotedly. Since you left the other day giving me necessary instructions, I stopped hurting, even if they bother me. They prick me with sticks wounding my body all over. I am hungry as well.”
The Sage replied:
“My dear friend! You should not be so gullible in this world. You have equal liberty to live, like others. Keeping this principle in mind, I did advise you not to bite or hurt anyone. Did I ever tell you that you should refrain from hissing at others when they come to trouble you? You have such dreadful teeth. Did I ever tell you not to show them in your defense?”

The serpent considered the situation and understood what the Sage was saying. The serpent’s position improved after that, as it began to react to people who approached it with the intent to harm it. It hissed, threatened, and demonstrated its power to strike. These were enough to keep them at bay due to fear!

The serpent’s story is only an example of how the poor creature used deterrence against human disturbance. The proclivity to defend oneself using one’s abilities can be noted in varying degrees among living beings, societies, and nations. As long as the goal is to live and let live, the outcome will be beneficial to everyone. Destruction and catastrophe are caused by unrestrained action or reaction, particularly on the weak. The resourceful and intelligent bear the burden of a balancing act.

GREG RAKOZY RFP

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