Friday, 18 April 2008

Lemmings Didn't Always Jump.

Long ago, in the land of lemmings, there was a certain season when the female lemmings would go to the nearest cliff, and climb carefully down. It was dangerous, and sometimes difficult. Most lemmings had the help of an experienced guide, who had made the climb before. They would help however they could, but at times the journey was too difficult and unpredictable. Harsh storms would batter the climbers, ice would make it treacherous. Some lemmings grew too weak to climb anymore, or became sick, and would plummet to the ground.

During this time, a significant number of the climbers died. It was tragic, but it was a part of life. There was no escaping the danger.

After a time, the lemmings became more advanced. A few had the idea of sending ssome lemmings to the bottom of the cliff, where they would make a soft nest of leaves and fur. Up top, the lemmings were urged to just jump, and allow the Catchers to catch them.

For a time, matters seemed to be better. No more bruised paws, cut knees and elbows. There was a little soreness at the end, but it seemed the outcome was better. More lemmings survived.

Some, who were too weak or sick to survive the climb, were carefully lowered down to the bottom. This too, seemed a vast improvement.

After a time, the Catchers grew arrogant. They held the power that insured the female lemmings had a better chance of surviving their fall. They even gave them special leaves that took away the fear of the drop, and the pain as well.

But not all was well. The Catchers were not satisfied, because sometimes lemmings still did not make it, or they ended up badly injured. They poked and prodded at their females before the leap. More and more were being lowered down, because it was considered safe. Some seemed to take too long at the top of the cliff, and the Catchers felt it was unnatural. Some of them became Pushers. If a lemming lingered at the top too long, she was pushed off. Being pushed made the fall even more frightening and painful. The Catchers/Pushers reassured the females, saying that they just weren't sure what might go wrong if they hung around at the top too long.

More and more lemmings, even those capable of climbing on their own, jumped. Jumping, being lowered, and pushed, became normal. The females hated and feared this time in their lives, but they no longer knew any other way. A few wondered about climbing down, but everyone around them reminded them how dangerous it had once been. Also, since so many did not survive the fall wholly unscathed, (and it seemed so many had once perished from climbing) it was assumed that some female lemmings just didn't know how to climb properly. They needed help at every turn. They needed to be pushed and caught.

Times once again grew dim. Most survived their falls, but few came out whole. They were traumatized from the terrifying fall and the pain. They were scarred. So many were being lowered, and sometimes things went wrong. A Catcher didn't pay close attention, or the vine would fray and snap, sending the lemming to her death.

Some lemmings, as they came closer to the edge, began to wonder if jumping was really the only way. They remembered that climbing, while dangerous, was not as frightening for those that trusted their instincts. There were still a few scarce Guides, ready to help those unwilling to jump.

The Catchers berated the Guides, and the Climbers, for attempting such a thing. After all, in olden times it had been very dangerous.

Even the other female lemmings gave the climbers a hard time. Those that climbed successfully were no longer afraid! They felt alive and powerful. They were amazed at what they had accomplished.

The Jumpers were sometimes angry. "No one is waiting at the bottom with a medal, just because you climbed."

Other Jumpers were not impressed. "It doesn't matter how you got to the bottom. As long as we survive, that's what matters. Who cares if it's scary?"

These days, we lemmings have the power to make things better. We can still climb, indeed we were meant to. We can take a Guide with us, and she can watch for dangers that we may not see. If, during the climb, the way becomes too treacherous, or we get sick or tired, she can help us decide how to proceed. There will always be Catchers at the bottom, who will be there when we NEED it.

Why are you jumping, when you can climb?

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