There is a difference between staying alive and living. Just like there is a difference between animals and humans. Animals stay alive, humans have the choice of actually living. You are born and you die. Everything else is uncertain. Trying to pretend there is certainty in life is the craziest of illusions. Cherishing uncertainty breeds real life. I enjoy the fact that life is unpredictable. I enjoy the challenges it throws. I succeed in handling some of them and fail miserably in others. But I never judge myself on these successes or failures and judge others even less. My way is the only way to live my life and the same is true for everyone else. You cannot change the past no matter how hard you try. And the future will always spring a surprise even for the most careful of planners, maybe more so for him. So this mess is only for those who learn from their mistakes and do not fear anything. People who don’t give a shit. Who says constipation is bad?
“So you think that these animals can never select a king that is good for them?” The tiger asked.
“In their present condition, no.” The lion said confidently.
“What present condition?”
“Well, they are averse to using their brains, averse to working hard, and averse to taking any responsibility. They keep looking towards all kinds of deities, kings, rulers to take them out of their misery and keep blaming all these things for all their problems.”
“And what can they do to help themselves, do you have any idea?”
“Of course. They can begin by deciding to help themselves. They can focus on increasing their strength, their intellect, their capacity. They can start taking responsibility for their condition. They can work hard in whatever field they are.”
“And how would all this result in the election of a good king?”
“Ha ha ha!” the lion roared. “This would create a jungle where any king would be a good king, because all the animals would be playing their part, so the king would not matter that much. Because all the animals would be solving their own problems, and if their king becomes one of those problems, they would solve that too.”
“So if they start living their own lives well, all will be fine in the jungle?”
“Yes, but that won’t happen,” said the lion with a satisfied grin. “They are too lethargic and stupid to do that. They will keep looking at the skies, waiting for God, or a messiah, and they will keep being exploited. We lions ruled them directly, not we rule them indirectly. If they come up with some other dumb idea of government, we’ll still rule.”
“So they have no chance?”
“They do. But they don’t look like realizing, any time soon, that government or king is nothing. They are the ones who can improve their conditions. If they keep asking for people to rule them, that’s what they’ll keep getting; people who rule, and rulers have power, and power corrupts, and we love corrupt people, because corrupt can be exploited, and we exploit.”
“Don’t you feel guilty? Exploitation is not a virtue.”
“Ha ha!” the lion roared. “They want to be exploited, they need exploitation. Just observe them. You will not see anyone who is against exploitation. All they desire is to cease to be the exploited and become the exploiter. And we give them that opportunity, we give them the tiniest bit of power for the tiniest bit of time and they run to us wagging their tails. And when we take that power away, they keep looking at us with their tongues hanging out, waiting for the next piece of power that we might throw at them.”
“Hmmm! So they need power.”
“Everyone needs power. But look at me. I have the power over myself. So no one can exercise power over me easily, anyone wishing to do that would have to fight, maybe fight to death. But these damn animals, they don’t have any idea or inclination to learn to exercise power over themselves. They love to exercise it on others. And to do that, they have to accept a system where anyone who can, will exercise power over others, and more often than not, they are the ones who suffer.”
“So why don’t they realize?”
“Because they are too scared to use their minds. Because they are too used to wagging their tails and waiting for a piece of food from someone else. Because they are not lions.”
“From what I hear, the animals are on to your scheme,” the tiger said. “I hear that they have figured out your pattern of installing wolves and dogs on the throne, and now they are prepared to resist such an effort. I have reports that even the wolves are now uncertain of whether they should try such a coup again, they fear for their lives.”
“Ha ha ha ha!” roared the lion. “That doesn’t bother me. They’ll keep coming up with ideas to ruin their lives.”
“But I hear that in the next elections, the animals are looking to change the status quo. I hear that they are looking towards someone other than the donkeys and zebras. Maybe some stronger, smarter animal.”
“Yes yes, I know!” the lion nodded. “They were stuck with a hyena for a long time actually who forced them to realize that this democratic system could be manipulated to their detriment. But I am not worried.”
“So you have a plan?” asked the tiger curiously.
“Well, I do, but I might not need it. A lot of animals are going for a new king but not all of them. And as I said, numbers count in this jungle now. So, the new horse might not become the king after all.”
“There’s a horse?”
“Yes, a race horse. He is charming, beautiful and kind. And he won a number of races in his time, so he is very popular. But you see, the beauty of this system is, that whoever wants to be the king needs to have a team, all of whom are a part his government. And this horse’s team consists of old donkeys, zebras, and hyenas who were parts of the teams of previous kings as well. I know how to pull their strings.”
“He has all the same animals in his team?”
“Not all. There are other smaller animals who have never experienced government, who don’t know its pressures, and who have no idea of my strength. I will handle them. But that won’t be necessary. These animals would elect a donkey or a zebra anyway.”
“I hear the horse is doing well.”
“Animals throng to see him whenever he appears in a clearing in the jungle. But that doesn’t mean anything. Weaker animals, as I told you before, are larger in number. Lots of others can pull such crowds. Just sit back and enjoy the proceedings.”
“But the jungle is becoming a wasteland.”
“Who gives a shit?”
“The animals should.”
“I didn’t ask who should give a shit. I asked who does give a shit.” The lion roared.
“But don’t you feel threatened by this new system,” asked the tiger. “This democracy gives freedom to the animals. They feel they have the power to choose their king. Don’t you think that with the passage of time, they will learn to choose a king who is not afraid of you?”
“No chance,” replied the lion calmly. “I don’t see that happening ever. I think you are overestimating the capability and thinking capacity of the animals my friend. They will never choose such a leader. Ever since this system came into fashion they have been choosing donkeys and zebras and deer to rule them.”
“Why don’t they go for smarter and stronger animals?”
“Because stronger and smarter animals are fewer in number. And in this system, numbers count. Also, stronger and smarter animals don’t get into the race for power in this silly system. They don’t want to enter a race where their strength and intelligence counts for nothing. So we’re safe.”
“And once in a while, when I feel that some stupid ass is getting ideas of his own in his head, I intervene.”
“Intervene? How?” asked the tiger.
“Well, I encourage the wolves and dogs, who have been given the duty of defending the jungle’s borders, to take over the government. They are the best and most loyal of creatures. They always listen to me.”
“Aren’t the democracy-loving animals pissed off at that?”
“Not really. They celebrate the coming to power of wolves initially. It is only much later, after many many years, that they realize there’s something wrong. And then, the wolves and dogs are removed from power and the animals revert back to electing donkeys and zebras. It has been going on like that for many years.”
“And you expect it to continue forever?” the tiger asked.
“Not exactly this pattern,” the lion replied. “But more or less the same essence. Don’t worry, the lions and the tigers are safe for a long time to come.”
“Aren’t you supposed to be the king of the jungle here?” asked the tiger.
“I am,” answered the lion, “just not in the old-fashioned way. Things have changed around here. And the new arrangement suits me just fine; even better.”
“The new arrangement? What new arrangement?” The tiger was confused.
“Well, you know, at the time when we lions ruled this jungle, things were simpler but dangerous. We had to be on our guard all the time. There was always the threat of stronger lions attacking us and taking our kingdom away, and that did happen frequently. Then there were all kinds of pressures of government. But most irritatingly, there was this constant complaining by all the other animals, this continuous whining about how everyone should be given a chance to rule.”
“Everyone? Even if they were weaker and sillier and ugly?”
“Exactly. They wanted everyone to have an equal chance to become the king.”
“Ha ha!” laughed the tiger at this stupid idea. “But they did have equal chance. Any one of them could defeat the lion and become king.”
“Yes yes, but the bastards wanted equal opportunity for even those who were too weak and too dumb to do that. They wanted all the animals of the jungle to elect their king. Whoever got more votes would be king. That way, they thought that the elected king, his kingship being dependent on the animals themselves, would work for the welfare of the animals.”
“Hmmm! Does make some sense.”
“I know it makes sense. The only problem is that it doesn’t make any sense.”
“Meaning?” the tiger was a little confused again.
“Well, as I said earlier, I am still the king of this jungle. Only now I leave the worries of government to the elected king, and only enjoy the fruits of kingship. The elected king lives in the royal cave and pretends to be the king. While I, with my strength and intelligence, simply control the elected king, and enjoy.”
“Ha ha! Genius! And what about the other animals?”
“Well, they are happy to have democracy, and keep cursing the elected king for all their woes. I don’t even have to listen to their stupid complaints.”
“What about their general condition though? Has it improved?”
“I think it has deteriorated. But who gives a shit?”
“Ha ha! Genius!” said the tiger.