There was once a family of beavers who lived in the forest in a quiet valley. They had found a stream and made their home there, a lovely lodge in the small pond that had formed. Food was plentiful, there was work to be done, and they were happy.
Occasionally the beavers would travel to the city to see their raccoon friends, who had their own lovely home and had begun raising their family.
One day, there came a fierce storm, and a pair of old trees in the forest were weakened by the winds. One quiet night, the first tree gave out, fell into the other, and then they both fell onto the beavers’ family lodge, and in a flurry of sticks and mud, it was crushed under the water.
The home was sturdy, and beavers do just fine in the water, so the family, a bit rattled, made it to shore and thought about what to do. They consulted their raccoon friends in the nearby city.
“We didn’t hear any trees fall. Are you sure that happened?” asked the raccoon family. The beaver family stood, dumbfounded.
“Why don’t you just come and live in the city?” asked the raccoon family. The beaver family tried to explain that beavers live in lovely lodges, made of sticks and mud, in the peaceful ponds formed by their dams. Besides, what would they do all day?
“Well, there’s plenty of work here! There are so many garbage cans to tip and explore!” The raccoons really enjoyed living in the city, and their enthusiasm showed!
The beaver family tried to explain that there were few trees, and no creeks or streams that would be suitable for a dam. Besides, the raccoons in the city tended to hire mostly other raccoons, for whatever reasons. And while the beavers thought they could pretend to be raccoons for a while, if they were found out, they’d be fired for the deception. And really, they were beavers. Unmatched in their skill of felling trees and building dams. They loved the forest. It was a perfect home for them.
When the beavers left, the raccoons were distraught. They talked about the situation with the other city raccoons. Together they decided that they were responsible for providing work for the beavers, who they felt would really enjoy foraging through the garbage cans. Who wouldn’t?! There were such treats to be found!
They wanted to protect the beavers, and felt those mud and stick homes weren’t nearly as nice as their solid brick city structures, which would make much better homes for the beavers. They also talked about the forest, it was so dangerous with all those trees!
So the raccoons banded together and decided to burn the forest.
And when the forest was burned, the dams were destroyed.
And when the dams were destroyed, the city was flooded.
As the creatures fled the valley, the raccoon family and beaver family found each other along the long road of refugees.
The raccoon family was optimistic, “Just wait until we get to the city over the hill! It’s a lovely place! I hear they have lovely puzzle garbage bins – great for keeping the mind sharp, and filled with the yummiest food imaginable!”
The beaver family sighed, and hoped for a cool stream and lots of trees.
Listen to your neighbours, your friends, your family. Believe them when they tell you what makes them happy. What makes them feel true to themselves. What is hard for them.
There are people who are different from you making beautiful lives in this world. Lives to which they are entitled by their humanity. Lives that look different than yours.
Let’s learn to love each other for who we are, instead of despite.
My little writing exercise above was a simple way for me to turn this over in my mind on a quiet Saturday morning. As a software developer, I fully realize it’s a “leaky abstraction” but it was fun to write, and I hope that you found it at least a little fun to read. And I do miss my home in the forest where I hope to be again soon with my family, which probably looks different than yours.
I realized this is probably more a Fable than a Parable, so I changed the title.