Professor Owl


Professor Owl, as one of the wisest animals in the forest was the teacher of the other animals. Professor Owl had a weekly class which every animal attended. That is every animal except the snake.

One day in the class, the crow was telling the story of an incident she had with the snake. She explained, "I was trying to find some food amidst the fallen branches when suddenly I felt a branch slithering beside my feet. I jumped in a shock and flew up on a branch only to realize that the slithering branch was none other than the snake. I was lucky to escape the snake’s poisonous bite."

The hare said, "you did the right thing to fly away. I would have run as fast as I could too."

The young eagle said, "when I get bigger, I will pick up the snake by its tails, hold him between my claws, and fly away to a distant land and drop him down from high up in the sky." All the other students laughed.

The squirrel however said, "this is mean and sick!"

The turtle replied to the squirrel, "we just want to give him a taste of his own medicine. I would personally bite his neck and pull it into my shell until it breaks. After all, you have to fight fire with fire, right?"

At this point professor Owl interrupted by saying, "Let’s see what happens if we all behaved as the snake does or as you suggested. We would start running away from each other, we would throw each other into distant lands, we would break each other’s necks and kill each other. Eventually there will be no animals left."

The turtles said, "I just didn’t see that. So I guess if I see the snake, I’ll just stay in my shell without being violent until it goes away."

Professor Owl said, "that is good, but it may not be enough. Let me ask you something. Why do you think the snake does this?"

Some of the animals shouted, "because he is evil."

Professor Owl said, "Turtle, do you consider yourself to be evil?"

Turtle was surprised and said, "of course not!"

Professor Owl replied, "then why did you even think about breaking another animal’s neck?"

Turtle said, "because I thought about fighting fire with fire. But when you explained some of the consequences of this, I realized that it was not the right thing to do. It was very shortsighted."

Professor Owl said, "good! Basically you thought that way because you did not know any better. But now that you know better, you would not do the same thing."

The turtle nodded in agreement.

Professor Owl continued, "now, do you think if the snake knew this, he would continue to do it?"

The eagle and the hare shouted, "probably!"

But the Turtle said, "I don’t think so. Just like now that I know better, I would not break his neck, if the snake knew better, he would not try to kill everyone."

Professor Owl concluded, "you see animals, the snake does no do these things because he is evil. He does these things because he does not know any better. So the next time you see him, don’t just hide in your shell or run away. Try to encourage the snake to attend these classes so that he may learn and start changing his wrong ways."

Shahriar Shahriari
Vancouver Canada
August 12, 1998

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