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The Seat of Honor

2006-07-09 01:04

  It was a time when tigers used to smoke——a long, long time ago. A large number of forest animals, big and small, powerful and weak, got together for a festival of the forest. There were lots and lots of food and drinks, and everyone was merry. But they had one problem to be decided as an important event of the festival: they had to decide who should sit at the head of the table as the elder, honored member, for it was customary to reserve the seat of honor for the oldest member. Each one of the animals claimed to be the oldest and so they could not come to an agreement. Finally they agreed to have an oral contest to determine who the oldest among them was. The one who could convince others that it was the oldest would take the seat of honor. A deer came forward first: “When the world began, someone had to create the sun, the moon and the stars and put them up in the sky. I had the honor of doing that monumental work.” Everyone was silent for a while, until a fox stepped out and said: “It is indeed true that the deer did create at the beginning of the world the sun, the moon and the stars, and put them up in the sky. However, the sky was so high that the deer needed a ladder to do the work. The wood of which the ladder was made was from a three thousand-year-old tree. It was I who planted that very tree.” While listening to the story of the fox, a toad sitting beside the fox was sobbing uncontrollably. Other animals were puzzled and asked the toad why he was crying so sadly. The toad, wiping his eyes, said haltingly: “I have had numerous sons, daughters, grandchildren, and …… great …… great grand children, but as ill luck would have it, they all died before me. Among all the grandchildren, the youngest one used to tell me that, when the world first began, someone put the sun, the moon and the stars up in the sky. The sky was so high that a ladder had to be used. The one who planted the tree from which the wood for the ladder came, my grandson told me, was his dearest friend. The story the fox just told us made me reminisce those good old days with my youngest grandson.'' No other animal came forth after the toad to boast its age any more, and they all agreed that the toad should take the seat of honor.

  The moral here seems to be that there is no jungle morality even in the jungle of animals. And the lord of all creatures, man, ought to do no less.

  Korea

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