At the beginning of May here in The Netherlands, we have Remembrance Day (4th) and then Liberation Day (5th). On the one-day, people are sad remembering loved ones and those lost in war. On the second day, it is a day of joy and celebration of freedom. It is extremely sad to think that still to this day, somewhere in the world there is unrest or war still raging.
I often say to people that fear is the biggest power imaginable. It is so true. It was interesting to see this year how many younger people are actively taking part in the remembrance of those who lost their lives for our freedom. It was touching to say the least including one programme I just happened to watch which was about the identification of loved lost ones from the war. Not a nice job for sure, opening unnamed burial plots, but with the wonders of DNA testing that a lot of the unknown have finally been given a name. This gave great comfort to family members who finally know what happened to their grandfather, father, husband, brother, uncle or nephew during the terrible war years here in Europe.
At the national remembrance event in Amsterdam a lot of young people took part helping with the placing of wreaths and also the laying of flowers around the entire monument on the Dam Square. I noticed how many young serious faces were in the audience. The respect of 2 minutes of silence at 8pm was enormous. Trains came to a standstill all over the country, planes neither landed nor took off from any airports, cars stopped on motorways, there were no transactions in shops, there was silence in theatres, cinemas and restaurants. All of which prove to me that people still actively want to take part and this is quite right. They want to remember.
I want to share a story with you in this blog, which comes from one of my favourite books (The Book of Love by Kathleen McGowan), which tells the story of the Toad and the Scorpion. I am not entirely sure what the source of this story is, but I think it is very old indeed, probably dating back to Europe in the 15thcentury. And it goes like this… (in my own words)…
One beautiful sunny morning, the toad was in his pond. It was an amazing pond fully of lilies and toad would often sit on their leaves in the sun, watching the world go by. He was a very modest toad, kind and friendly to everyone he met. When he got warm in the sun, he would jump off the leaf and swim into the coolness and depths of his pond, looking for something to eat, but he preferred to be above the water, just sitting, looking. Suddenly a scorpion appeared at the edge of toad’s pond. ‘Ah morning toad, I was wondering if you could help me?’ he asked. ‘In a bit of a rush this morning and I would like to ask you to give me a lift on your back to the other side of the pond. Could you?’ Toad immediately felt suspicious because of course he had been told stories about the scorpion and his deadly sting. ‘Eh sorry, too busy’, he replied. The scorpion laughed. ‘But you are only sitting there doing nothing. Oh come on, please do me a favour’. The toad tried to ignore him but scorpion was very persistent and kept asking. Eventually the toad opened up his eyes and looked hard at the scorpion. ‘I am sorry’, he said, ‘cannot help you because if I take you across the pond on my back, what would happen if you sting me with your deadly tail?’ ‘Why would I do that?’ the scorpion replied. ‘Well, I have heard stories about you and that your sting is fatal, so what guarantees do I have that you would not do that to me?’ Toad just wished he would go away and stop asking him for help. But the scorpion was very determined and for him to walk all around this very large pond would take him so long. He cleared his throat and asked again. ‘Oh come on Toad, please, you would be doing me such a great favour and why on earth would I sting you whilst on your back? To do that would mean that we would both die and sink to the bottom on this pond … please will you help?’
Eventually toad thought he is never going to go away and leave me in peace, perhaps I should just take him across the pond and be done with it. He thought hard about it, whether to remember all the stories he had heard or just take the chance and take the blasted scorpion across the pond, so that he could return to his lily leaf and watch the day pass by.
‘Oh all right I will’, he said. The scorpion thanked him profusely and climbed carefully onto his back. Toad began to swim across the pond slowly. About half way across he suddenly felt a painful sharp prick into his skin. He felt ill, dizzy and it was hard to him to swim on. ‘Why did you sting me?’ he asked the scorpion as he began to sink slowly under the weather?’ He never heard the reply, but the poison took effect and the toad died. The scorpion drowned under the water.
What is the moral of this story? Well, I will tell you the answer just as it is written in the book mentioned above. The point is that you can never ever change the character of people. Some people are just good, friendly and kind, whilst others despite the fact they try to be the same, always remain evil at heart. Just like the scorpion, he tried to be nice and friendly but his basic character was such that he always stung and killed his victims. It was his nature, even when others helped him, just like the toad had with the best intentions. We have a saying in English, that ‘a leopard will never change it spots’. This relates to this story too.
This is what Wikipedia says about the moral:
The moral of the story is that, like the scorpion, humans possess compulsions that they cannot repress even when it is in their best interest. Conversely, like the toad, humans can be too trusting and hence the importance of understanding others by their true nature.
Now my question to you this morning is: how many people do you have in your lives that you could compare to the scorpion? Just have a think about it. No matter how hard they try, you can never change the basic character. They often will do everything they can to be nice, friendly and kind, but it is just not in them. They just cannot help it.
It is something to think about isn’t it?
Now matter how hard we try, there will always be scorpions in this world. Always!
Image: Google Images
I have literally just published this blog when I got an App message from one of my friends who just happens to be in Corsica at the moment. He reminded me so say: don’t be a toad, never be a toad! Thanks Loek!