Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Turtle and The Scorpion

I was reminded of this story in a recent conversation with a friend. It is believed to have been written by Nur ad-Din Abd ar-Rahman Jami in the 1500s, but there are multiple variations of it in existence. Despite it's age, I recall having heard it as a child and believe it still has a lesson to teach.

The Turtle and The Scorpion:
A turtle was happily swimming along a river when a scorpion hailed it from the shore.

The scorpion, being a very poor swimmer, asked the turtle to carry him on his back across the river.
"Are you mad?" exclaimed the turtle. "You'll sting me while I'm swimming and I'll drown."
"My dear turtle," laughed the scorpion, "if I were to sting you, you would drown and I would go down with you, and drown as well. Now where is the logic in that?"
The turtle thought this over, and saw the logic of the scorpion's statement. "You're right!" cried the turtle. "Hop on!"
The scorpion climbed aboard and halfway across the river the scorpion gave the turtle a mighty sting. As they both sank to the bottom, the turtle resignedly said:
"Do you mind if I ask you something? You said there'd be no logic in your stinging me. Why did you do it?"
"It has nothing to do with logic," the drowning scorpion sadly replied. "It's just my character."

Unfortunately, as the moral goes, you cannot change the nature of some people and not everyone acts on logic. There will always be turtles and scorpions. It's about balance. How we deal with them is what matters.