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War

There is an old African parable that I have heard someone tell about the nature of war, I will try to retell it as true to the meaning as possible.

African Parable (nature of war/ for this telling I am calling this "The hare is stronger than the elephant"): The hare greatly desires to eat some of the delicious fruit that the elephant has stored in his habitat. The elephant is much stronger and bigger than the hare, so the hare has to think hard and devise a way to satisfy his cravings for the elephant's fruits. After careful thought the hare goes to the elephant and challenges him to a tug of war. The hare tells the elephant, "If I beat you, I get all of your fruit." The elephant laughs and accepts the hare's challenge. This will be so easy to do the elephant thinks and laughs again. "Meet me in the field tomorrow," the hare tells the elephant. That same day the hare goes to the river and talks to the hippopotamus. The hare tells the hippopotamus that the elephant has been bragging about how strong he is and that he is the strongest animal in all of Africa. The hippopotamus doesn't like the elephant because the elephant's big feet always muddy and mess up the riverbed when he stomps through the river. "I think I'm stronger than the elephant," the hippopotamus says to the hare. "I bet you can prove it!" says the hare.

The next day the hare approaches the elephant in the field with a long rope for the tug of war. "You tie this end of the rope around you and I'm going to stretch the rope out and tie the other end around me. I'll end up being in the forest," says the hare. The elephant agrees and the hare runs into the forest with his end of the rope and ties it onto the hippopotamus. "Are you ready!" yells the hare to the elephant. "Yes!" yells back the elephant. "On your mark, get set, go!" yells the hare. The elephant is shocked when the rope is pulled tight, and he is at a standstill. Pull as hard as he might, the elephant cannot make any ground on the hare. Even though it's not really the hare, but the elephant does not know this. The tug of war goes on and on for hours. Finally, as the sun is going down the elephant and hippopotamus are both exhausted and fall to the ground in loss of energy. At this point the hare takes the rope off of the hippopotamus and ties it around himself. Then the hare walks out of the forest into the field to talk to the elephant. "It was a pretty even match," says the hare. "Agreed," says the elephant. "I guess I didn't win, but you didn't beat me either. How about you give me half of your supply of fruit?" suggests the hare as a fair outcome. The elephant agrees and gives the hare half of his fruit, never knowing that the hippopotamus had anything to do with it.


"Even the very wise cannot see all ends." (Vietnam War)


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