For a long time there was no doubt and no acrimony among the beasts as to whether Hare or Tortoise could run the swifter. Everybody knew that Hare was faster and that Tortoise was slower, it had been like that since everyone could remember, there were no new wings in Tortoise, and no new illness or defect in Hare to even think about it. But it wasÂ Tortoise, in one day of resentment, who thought it otherwise: Yes, I can. Tortoise started training his hardest, running vast inches in all his resistance, to prove that he could defeat anyone, thanks to his effort, not thanks to his nature. He was going to be an inspiration for Sloth andÂ Snail, and from that day of victory, no one would longer be regarded as swifter based just on forms.
Hare was a devoted athlete, and was respected by other animals for his discipline and his beauty in the arts of swiftness. One day Tortoise, interrupted Hare from his exercise, and confronted him saying: â€œI’m faster than you, I challenge you to a raceâ€. All beasts started laughing, and with a subtle smile Hare just said: â€œAre you serious?â€ â€“ â€œYes, I am, I have trained very hard and I can defeat youâ€- said Tortoise with arrogant tone. â€“â€œBut, you’re Tortoise, you are a very slow runnerâ€ â€“ â€œNo, thatâ€™s not truth, that was what you and all your friends have tried to convince me in the past, but now, Iâ€™m a new Tortoise, I changed because I wanted to, and I can become whoever and whatever I wish!â€. Â In that point, the animals burst out laughing. Hare said: â€œOk, I’ll race with you, but only because I admire your determinationâ€.
Next day, they raced.
Both started at the same time and position, in equally distributed tracks. Hare ran fast, as usual. But even when he was running against Tortoise, someone that he acknowledged to be slower, he ran for the satisfaction of giving his best in every race, regardless the size of his opponent. The nature of Hare, was not only of a swift kind, but of a strong will that was fueled by its own honor. Thus, Hare ran in all his natural speed and grace, and that’s because that’s what he has being doing for millenniums, and that’s why he acquired that fame, that day was not going to be a ridicule exception just for some uncaring laziness or haughtiness.
And so, naturally, Hare won the race, because he was fast as well as courageous. After passing the finishing line, he looked back and saw, naturally, nothing. He shook his head feeling a little bad for the obstinate Tortoise, who foolishly brought an unnecessary shame to himself in a blind denial of his obvious condition. Fortunately, Hare noticed that he surpassed his own record, and that made him feel a little better… perhaps it was a good experience after all. Hare was cherished for his triumph, -“It’s nothing” – Hare said, and just after a moment, he decided to go home to rest… there was no need to rub it in his face.
Tortoise dropped out the race about one-quarter of the total length of the track, he was very exhausted, it was much harder than he initially thought. He just deviated, and went to his home to rest, grumpy and thinking up a thousand pretexts: the weather, the â€œunequalâ€ condition of the track, the psychological undermining he was subjected to by the rest of the animals…
From that day, the other beasts laughed of Tortoise not for being slow, but for being such big mouthed pretentious fool.
I know, we love the old version of this fable, where the haughty Hare is humiliated by the steadiness of the hard working Tortoise. Even when I personally agree with that which I believe is the real meaning of the original version, this is, to always be willful and constant, the modern interpretation we make of it has a fixation on the anomaly as the norm. I mean, you donâ€™t really know, perhaps from a village of thieves may a good genius born, please don’t generalize, and please donâ€™t burn the village. You donâ€™t really know, with death penalty you would eventually kill an innocent, please don’t generalize, and please donâ€™t kill murderers. You donâ€™t really know, perhaps a tortoise could win a race against a hare, please don’t generalize, please donâ€™t prejudge tortoises.
Yes, this is the core of individualism, the Individual against ANY regularity. Unfortunately, we created a new pleasant generalization: free will and nurture regularly triumph over nature. That’s why our culture loves stories about winning tortoises so much. But, the least, if free will and nurture do not regularly triumph over nature, we should seriously rethink what we are doing as humankind in all our blind obstinateness of making it happen.