The Fox and the Tiger: Who’s Zoomin’ Who?


Being Sunday, I went to my usual place of worship, St. Patrick’s Church. It was the 4th Sunday of Easter, and the world day of prayer for Vocations. The theme for the readings was the Good Sheppard. Our priest, father Jacques Arguin, gave an interesting sermon about an ancient Chinese proverb. It concerned the fox and the tiger. The tiger was about to eat the fox in the jungle when the sly fox convinced the tiger that he, the fox, was the greatest of all the animals of the jungle. He convinced the tiger to follow him as he led him through the jungle. Sure enough, all the beasts of the jungle fled when they advanced. The fox then managed to ‘prove’ his point. But the moral of the story is that it’s easy to be a fox and lead the way through the perils of the jungle, if you have the tiger behind you to back you up.

This leads me back to my article which appeared in the QCT a few weeks ago called ‘Ride the Tiger: JFK and Heavy Metal’. If we take as a given that the tiger represents brute military strength, and the fox a politician, then, as the title of this current article asks, ‘Who’s zoomin’ who?’ This was a song sung by Aretha Franklin, wherein she asked, essentially, ‘who’s in charge here?’ or ‘who’s really got the power?’

Throughout history, priests, politicians, princes and sundry potentates have all called upon the forces of the tiger, that is to say, brute military power, to achieve their aims. But, in the final analysis, what power controls brute military power? Would the tiger really have been so foolish as to follow the sly fox through the forest, not realizing that he was being used as a pawn? For whatever reason, the writers of that particular Chinese proverb did not see fit to ascribe much cunning or intelligence to the tiger. In the real world, the tiger would have easily devoured the fox, and not have let itself be manipulated so easily.

And so it is in our world today, as it always has been, and always shall be. The Gods of War, and high finance, continue to exact a heavy toll of blood sacrifice, in exchange for allowing humanity to continue to live and grind inexorably towards some form of world peace, based on the final exhaustion of all possibility for ethnic, religious, linguistic, and socio-economic conflict resolution through force of arms.

The fox, if he were truly sly and shrewd, would’ve followed the tiger through the jungle, and let him clear away his path for him, all the while keeping an eye on his every move, in case he tried to pull a fast one on him. He could’ve then led him to a sure source of food, insuring therefore that he himself would not get devoured, guaranteeing that the brute force of the tiger remained at his disposal.

In my mind, this would be the true sign of the Good Sheppard: Being a fox and having a tiger to protect the flock from the wolves, and ensuring that Mr. Tiger remains well fed so that he doesn’t start eating the sheep.

But hey, that’s just me. I’m Canadian. Maybe it’s about time we re-write those ancient Chinese proverbs, eh?

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