Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Lucky the Pig

Once upon a time there was a pig called Lucky. He lived on a farm in the countryside along with his brothers and sisters and he was called Lucky because when he’d been born he was small and pale and nearly dead. The farmer’s wife had taken him inside and fed him milk and kept him warm until he was strong enough to go back to his family.

Lucky had an older brother called Trog. Trog was ugly, even for a pig, and often pushed his brothers and sisters out of the way for more milk. Their mother was a huge sow who lay on her side and did nothing to interfere, so Trog grew stronger with the extra milk he was drinking at the expense of his siblings. As Lucky was the weakest of the pigs he grew to dislike Trog.

One day a little girl in a white dress came to see them. She was the niece of the farmer’s wife and she had been given permission to look at the animals, although she was warned not to touch them. She looked over the pen to watch the piglets feeding. As usual, Trog was being a bully and when he pushed Lucky away to grab some more milk for himself, the girl was sad.
“You poor thing,” she said, reaching in to stroke Lucky. Lucky enjoyed being stroked and he moved closer to the girl who tickled him behind his ear. Lucky squealed with pleasure. Trog saw this and was jealous of the attention his little brother was getting. He ran at Lucky and butted him away from the girl’s hand.
“You rotten bully!” she cried and she smacked Trog over the head. This made Trog even angrier and, before the girl could pull her hand away, Trog jumped up and bit her. The girl cried out and ran off, holding her hand at a distance. Trog snorted triumphantly and Lucky cowered in terror. Trog had made it clear who the boss was in that family.
But within minutes, the girl returned with the farmer. The pigs didn’t understand human language, but they could feel the anger and all of them, even Trog, bunched together in fear. Lucky noticed that the girl’s hand had something white wrapped around it.
“Which one was it then?” asked the farmer.
The girl looked at the shivering pink mass of piglets. Now that they were all bunched up, she couldn’t tell them apart.
“I don’t know,” she said. “They all look alike. The only one I recognise is that one!” And she pointed at Lucky.
When Lucky saw the girl point at him like that, he piddled on the straw in fear. He tried squeezing himself backwards and his bottom pressed into Trog’s face. This angered Trog and he butted Lucky with his head.
“That one!” cried the girl, pointing at Trog.
Trog looked up just in time to see the huge hands of the farmer reach in and grab him. Trog was taken out of the pen and carried off by the two humans.
Lucky never saw his brother again. Sometimes, as he lay on his front drinking milk in peace, he wondered what had become of him. One of his sisters believed that the girl wanted to have Trog as a pet and that Trog was now living in a warm house, sleeping on cushions and eating wonderful food.
But, somehow, Lucky didn’t think so.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The Believer and the Atheist

Two cavemen sat by a fire at night. Suddenly, they heard a strange noise in the darkness and they were afraid. One caveman believed in proof and knowledge. He grabbed a stick from the fire and, using it as a torch, he went to investigate. He believed that if he discovered what made the noise he would no longer be afraid.
The other caveman believed in the Great Spirit. He went onto his knees, lifted his arms into the air and said, “Great Spirit, You who see and hear everything. I am afraid and I do not know what to do. You know what is making this noise even though I do not. Guide me.” He breathed deeply and calmed his mind and in this calm he felt his body relax. It seemed to say: “There is nothing to fear. Go to sleep.” The caveman thanked the Great Spirit and went to sleep by the fire.
Some time later he was awakened by the first caveman who had returned from his investigation.
“I discovered what was making that strange noise,” said the caveman who believed in proof and knowledge. “It was a small bird no bigger than the palm of my hand. There is nothing to fear.”
“I already knew that,” said the caveman who believed in the Great Spirit.
“You knew about the bird?” said the first caveman.
“No,” said the second caveman. “But I knew there was nothing to fear.”
“How could you possibly know that?”
“The Great Spirit told me.”
The caveman who believed in proof and knowledge became angry. He did not believe in the Great Spirit because it was impossible to prove it actually existed.
“You are a fool!” he said.
“How so?” said the other.
“Because you believe in something that cannot be seen, cannot be heard and cannot be felt. That makes you a fool!”
“Perhaps. But may I remind you that we were both afraid when we heard the strange noise. Yet, in spite of that fear, I was able to sleep ... and you were not.”
So saying, the caveman who believed in the Great Spirit went back to sleep while the caveman who believed in proof and knowledge lay awake and nursed his anger.