Updated: Nov 7, 2020
*Words of wisdom for inspirational thought are at the end of the story!
The Council of the Jungle met for the first time since the outbreak of the virus. The sudden impact of the virus took the jungle by total surprise. Even the leaves of the trees were shaking with the fear of the unknown effects of this silent sickness. As the virus made its indiscriminate assault on the animals of the jungle, the Council frantically called an emergency meeting of the Elders.
All the animal groups were represented from large to small, loud to quiet, omnivore to carnivore, flying to swimming to walking to slithering. All were in attendance. The nature of predator versus prey had to be set aside for a matter as important as this – life or death of the jungle. As the Council of Elders gathered into a large circle deep in the middle of their paradise, nervous energy seemed to reach a fever pitch. No one spoke and yet everyone knew what the other was thinking. Suddenly, a spine chilling roar filled the air and everyone knew that Basha the Bengal tiger, King of the Jungle Cats and one of the oldest, most respected and feared Elders, had arrived.
Gonzo, the esteemed gorilla statesman and self appointed leader, nodded to Basha and then stood on two legs, clapping two coconut shells together to call the meeting to order. “Thank you all for coming,” he began wearily. “As each of you know by now, we have an enemy in our midst. A silent enemy. We cannot see it with our eyes, smell it with our noses, or taste it with our mouths, but we know it is here and we are experiencing the devastation it is causing. We have witnessed our family and friends stricken down by its insidious grip. We are all at risk and must protect ourselves and protect each other.”
Across the sea of Elders, Gonzo could see nodding and hear slight murmurs of agreement. He continued, “I have received a proven antidote from my cousins, the orangutans of the Malaysian Rainforest. This same sickness was in their rainforest before it traveled here. It was with them for months until they finally discovered they could stop the contagion if all the animals living in the rain forest fastened leaves or petals over their mouths or snouts and stopped migrating throughout the rainforest.” Gonzo paused, taking in the expressions of those staring back at him and noticing how some of the Elders seemed to tense while others relaxed. “My cousin said it was not easy, but after several months of the entire rainforest religiously using coverings and staying close to their homes, the virus seemed to leave them. There has not been an illness for two moons.”
Leona Leopard raised her paw, and Gonzo motioned for her to speak. “How did it arrive here if it was once so far away?”
Gonzo sighed heavily, “We think, we are not sure, but we think it arrived on the backs of Tommy Toucan’s family when they flew here from the rainforest for his birthday bash. Their visit was before the rainforest lockdown and before the virus was widespread there.” Gonzo drew himself up to stand at his full height. “I tell each of you, we must cover our mouths with banana leaves and temporarily cease movement within our jungle. We should follow their lead, for they have shown us footprints in the sand – they have proven…it works.”
“I don’t want to wear a leaf,” Harpo Hippo angrily declared. “It will be hot and we won’t be able to breath well. It’s a violation of our rights.”
“Yeah!” Ella Elephant trumped. “We won’t be able to go here and there like we want. I got plans, and I’ve got things to do and places to be. That is another violation of our rights.”
All Gonzo could do was stare incredulously at the Elders as members of the Council exploded with their own opinions. Mika Monkey was all for it, but Pyler Python was against it. Tommy Toucan felt like his family was unjustly accused of spreading the virus. Ricky Rhino wanted to negotiate what he felt like where extreme measures. Antoine Aardvark agreed but wanted to know who was going to enforce these rules and hold animals accountable. Carol Crocodile did not believe it would do any good since the virus was already spreading.
On and on, around and around, their words swirled, becoming angrier and louder with each breath, drowning out the voices of those who tried to speak reason.
“Freedom! Freedom! Freedom! You’re taking away our freedom! We want to be free to fly where we want, swim where we want, walk where we want, climb where we want! The Council should not and cannot tell us what to do! We will do what is best for us and our animal groups!”
Basha sat very still on the rock ledge above the Council, taking it all in while Gonzo desperately gazed up at him for help. He waved his hands wildly and shouted, “I understand. I understand! I don’t want this either, but I also don’t want all of us and our families…our jungle to suffer and die! We must do this for the good of the jungle – this is not aboutyou it is about us!” Gonzo’s voice grew in volume. “Freedom doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want to, whenever you want to, with no regard for anyone else! We’re talking about our survival, our livelihood, our future! These restrictions are short term pain for long term gain! Don’t you see?”
His words were met on deaf ears. “Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!”
Gonzo threw his hands in the air in exasperation, falling to his knees, just as Basha leapt down from his perch to land beside him and roared, “Enough!”
The Elders grew silent, staring at Basha in shock, some in fear. Basha slowly eyed each one of the Elders, slowly pacing the rocky platform, and quietly growled…
* * * * * * *
WITH GREAT FREEDOM COMES EVEN GREATER RESPONSIBILITY
* * * * * * *
*Chew On This: Fifty-Two Inspirational Points to Ponder is available for purchase here!