One day long ago, a man walked along a dusty old road. Soon a lion approached and met him. They struck up a conversation and began walking together.
“Tell me,” said the man, “Of lion and man, who do you consider to possess the greater strength and cunning?”
The lion walked silently, considering the question. There is great power and cunning to speak of for both, he thought. But hard to tell which is greater.
Unable to wait, and considerably more interested in his own opinion anyway, the man answered his own question. “I think it is reasonable to say man is greater,” he said. “You lions possess not the cunning and strategy that make us great. We will always be conquerors, and you will always fear and serve us.”
The lion purred in obvious annoyance. “That is quite a statement,” he replied.
“Follow me,” said the man, “I will prove it to you!”
The man led the lion into the beautiful public gardens and up to a great statue of stone. The god Zeus was depicted ripping apart a lion’s jaws, slaying the stone beast. The man pointed smugly at the statue, waiting for his companion to concede.
The lion stopped in his tracks and stared at the statue in some confusion. Then a grin began to spread across his face. He chuckled and turned to the man. “You are blind, silly man! Look at the inscription! It was a man, like you, who carved this statue,” he said. “Had a lion fashioned this statue, you can be sure that it would be Zeus who was slain. You have proved nothing.”
In this old fable, Aesop taught an important lesson: We can easily represent things as we wish them to be. Our minds are shaped by the statues around us. Each statue has its own maker whose mind was also shaped by statues.
Now that does not prove there is no “truth,” no reality. But it warns that we must take care how blindly we commit ourselves to the statues that have shaped us. Why, after all, do we so desperately need to believe our statues are accurate beyond the shadow of a doubt.
Like the man, we are often by nature too confident in our own presuppositions. Too sure of our opinions, too convinced by our own logic.
So it’s time to ask ourselves: Are we blindly following the statues made by our own kind? Or are we truly opening our minds to other ideas–ideas that may be valuable for us, may help us, may change our lives completely?