Thursday, 13 July 2017

The Elephant and the Blue Whale: A Parable

One day a blue whale was swimming up and down in a river because it was lost. It had been raised by salmon and had only recently learned that it was a blue whale. An elephant on the bank who fortunately knew how to speak the language of blue whales called out to him. "I'll help you find your way to the ocean", said the elephant, "if you give me a ride to the other side of the river".

The blue whale thought about this for a moment. "Elephants can swim. Why do you need me?" he asked. The elephant replied that not every elephant could swim, at which point the blue whale suggested that the elephant could walk along the river bottom using his trunk as a snorkel, but the elephant pointed out that the river bottom had sharp stones, which seemed reasonable enough to the blue whale.

The blue whale was about to agree when he remembered an incident from many years ago. "I know your kind", he said. "You'll wait until we're half-way across the river and then you'll start making trumpeting noises with your trunk which will be annoying". The elephant promised that he would not do that, and after a short debate he finally convinced the blue whale of his sincerity.

And so the elephant climbed onto the back of the blue whale and they set off. At first all seemed well, but half-way across the river the elephant took a deep breath and started making trumpeting noises with his trunk.

"Stop that", said the blue whale, "it's annoying", but the elephant continued to make trumpeting noises. "I can't help it", he said, in between bouts of trumpeting. "It's in my nature", and he continued to trumpet, and ultimately neither the blue whale nor the elephant came to harm but the blue whale was very cross, the end.