Men who are eager to terrorize others will inevitably become frightened of the very people they are intimidating.
–Cicero, “On Duties”
…we but teach bloody instructions, which, being taught, return to plague the inventor…
Now our story begins in a strange, faraway place where there lived 100 Elephants. And it’s a funny story, too, but also a very serious story. Now these Elephants spent most of their time roaming about and protecting their gigantic, red-and-blue Fortress. These were proud Elephants, all 100 of them, and they would always brag about how powerful they were and how they could crush anything that got in their way. It got so that even if a little fly buzzed in his ear, an Elephant would get angry and smash him to bits with his big old trunk!
Everyday the Elephants would play with all their toys from their giant, five-sided, Toy Chest, toys with scary names like Hellfire, Blackhawk and “F-15.” These Elephants had so many toys, kids, that when they broke one or threw one they didn’t even care! And whenever they got angry or in a fight, they would throw their big toys all over the place!
Now these funny Elephants were always daring anybody to try to fight them. They would chase anybody away who was hanging around and even roar and snort sometimes! And they were afraid of nothing, nothing at all—except one thing. Can you guess what it was, kids? Right! A Mouse!
Now it happened that an especially evil Mouse lived somewhere close by, hiding and burrowing most of the time to remain unseen. Now he wasn’t always evil, this Mouse. But he remembered the time the Elephants, all 100 of them, went wild and stamped and pounded and crushed his little home and neighborhood. And this Mouse, who was once a quiet and peaceful Mouse, was now angry and sad and had a grudge against the Elephants.
Well, every time the Elephants had destroyed everything, they would march back home and continue to stand guard around their red-and-blue Fortress. These were brave Elephants, powerful Elephants, but in their imaginations they saw this evil Mouse plotting and scheming and biding his time until he could strike. And the more they pictured this in their minds, the more afraid the Elephants became.
So they asked their friend the Sorcerer to conjure up a Magic Eye which could secretly spy on the Mouse, so that they would always know his every action and secret doings. And the Sorcerer, who was a kind-hearted old soul, asked his very intelligent agents and apprentices to build up a Magic Eye to help the Elephants. But the Sorcerer made a mistake: these apprentices, very intelligent apprentices, got out-of-control, and kept making one Magic Eye after another, until they were spying and snooping on the whole wide world!
And meanwhile, who knew where the Mouse was? He could have been planning to scare or really frighten or maybe even hurt those big old Elephants! So the Elephants, all 100 of them, gathered around and listened to their wise leader, who warned them: “Make no mistake: the evil Mouse exists in the world.” So they thought and thought and thought until they figured out what to do. First, they would go on a rampage again, pounding and crushing everything they could see all across the land.
But what if the Mouse was still not there, what if he’d burrowed and hid and escaped at night to some other place? So the Elephants put their big old heads together again and thought some more. They knew what to do. They would roam far and wide, bringing with them their heaviest toys of destruction, and they would smash any and all places where the Mouse might be!
But kids, their plan was not really a good plan. You see, the Elephants said they were hunting for the Mouse, the Mouse they were so afraid of. But they ended up hurting everybody else, everybody else except the evil Mouse.
Well, I tried to make this an exciting story but it’s really a very sad story. And it doesn’t have a happy ending.
It’s night out now, children. Time to go back to sleep.