If You Cannot Be Great, At Least Do No Harm

Aesop tells us a story of a hunter who was once looking for the tracks of a lion.  Searching here and there with no success, he paused to ask a local woodcutter if he had seen the footprints of a lion, and, if so, where he thought the lion’s den might be found.  The woodcutter responded that there was no need to bother with prints; he would be happy to take the hunter to the lion’s den himself.  Instead of being pleased at this news, the hunter began to show signs of extreme nervousness and fear.  He then extricated himself from the situation, telling the woodcutter, “Thank you for your offer, but I am really only interested in finding the tracks of the lion, not the lion himself.”

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Never Surrender What Is Most Important

There is a fable in Aesop that involves the behavior of the beaver.  In ancient times, beavers were often hunted for the scented oil, known as castorea, that was found in sacs near its genital area.  The beaver liked to rub its hind parts against trees and logs, thereby possessively marking them with his scent; and this scent apparently had to humans a pleasant aroma, reputed to be evocative of vanilla.  The ancients mistakenly thought that this valued aromatic came from the beaver’s scrotum, rather than from special internal sacs adjacent to the genitalia.

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Whether A Man Can Change, And How He May Change

Can a man change, or are his personality traits so fixed that external circumstances are incapable of adjusting them in any significant way?  This is a question that finds enthusiastic advocates for both answers.  The cynics–or as they prefer to be called, the “realists”–tell us that personality does not change.  Our knowledge contracts and expands, but the core of our being remains immutable.  We may become more polished in our presentations, or more adept at concealing our intentions, but in the end it is still the same old “us.”  We are here, and we have not changed.

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