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For centuries, cultures around the world have used fables not only for entertainment but as a method to teach significant moral lessons. Fables have given cultures an opportunity to highlight their moral values and provide individuals a path to practice their traditions through their minds and hearts. One of the most prominent fables to emerge from Western culture is, “The Lion and the Mouse”, which is commonly attributed to Aesop. This fable has remained a favorite since its fabrication because of its simplistic yet enduring moralistic principles. Aesop’s allegorical fable has continued to transcend its ancient roots to offer our revolutionizing society a timeless scenario that emphasizes the need for mutual dependence. This fable begins with a robust lion peacefully sleeping in the forest. Soon a feeble mouse stumbles upon across the lion, disturbing his slumber. Aggravated, the lion attempts to kill the mouse until it fearfully implores the lion for forgiveness with the promise to aid him in the future. The lion disregards the mouse’s proposition and decides to spare him from death. A few days later while on a hunt, the lion is caught off guard by a hunter’s net. Roaring in anger, the lion grabs the attention of the mouse that he had overlooked earlier. Without hesitation, the timid mouse gnaws one of the ropes holding the lion hostage. The fable swiftly ends upon the lion’s freedom and the mouse exclaims, “You laughed… Now you see that even a Mouse can help a Lion” (Aesop).
The history of this fable is so perplexing that scholars can only theorize its origins, a sharp contrast to the fable’s simplistic tale. Like other fables, “The Lion and the Mouse”, was a story believed to have been traditionally passed down orally and evolved with each reiteration. The first recording of this fable was collected within, “Aesop’s Fables”, and is attributed to the ancient Greek figure known as Aesop. There is little evidence to suggest that Aesop was a real being, but scholars have theorized that Aesop may have been a former slave before becoming a fabulist during the mid-sixth century BCE. Even though Aesop may be regarded as more myth than a man, he was still a prominent legend in Greece because his fables became a pillar of ancient Greek culture. Fables such as, “The Lion and the Mouse” served as a cornerstone of education that conveyed moral principles to Greek children. Interestingly, fables such as this one were often politically charged and “served as a code by which the weak and powerless could speak out against the strong and powerful”.
As with most fables the moralistic principal of, “The Lion and the Mouse” lends itself to few interpretations into how it is supposed to be observed. The most commonly accepted moral from this fable is that every being has value and the ability to act with kindness. This is demonstrated through the lion’s pompous behavior and the mouse’s timid and gentle nature. If the lion had continued seeing the mouse with little to no value, he would have fell prey to the hunters net himself. The selflessness of the mouse is also a contributing factor in the lion’s freedom. Essentially, this fable serves as an allegory to condemn passing judgment through preconceived notions.
Through countless reiterations, Aesop’s fable remains as relevant today as it did centuries before due to its abiding concepts of kindness and seeing value in others. This fable is chiefly relevant among children as the symbolic tale delivers a model that offers guidance for children developing their emotional skills for empathy. Moreover, when children show value towards their peers, they not only find value within themselves, but they establish trust and confidence amongst themselves. Since reading this fable in my childhood, I have recognized its increasing relevance through my personal experience. I have learned that approaching situations with kindness requires more strength and courage than any other approach, and the results are always more satisfying. Additionally, I have realized that valuing others is not only empowering, but others are more likely to gravitate to your compassionate character.
However, instead of focusing on a specific age group or my personal experience, it is more meaningful to envision how this fable could further benefit our society. As society becomes progressively interdependent, it is fundamental that each citizen shows compassion and develops an attitude that every being has value. If every individual could overlook gender, color, and socioeconomic status we could start dismantling the disconnect felt amongst our society and begin establishing a more peaceful world. Unfortunately, the morals of this fable cannot solve every problem in society because qualities such as kindness still suffer from some of our worst human attributes such as greed and egoism. Some people are so blinded by their own avarice and arrogance that no amount of compassion or appreciation can move them. This renowned fable achieves its goal by having the reader recognize the significance of the morals that it strives to communicate. This simplistic fable allows its audience to imagine a world where there is no greed or selflessness but a world where everyone treats one another with compassion and respect. To start achieving this kind of peace, we must start with ourselves and choose to lift others up and choose to give others the benefit of the doubt.
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