Give Your Fighting Energy A Rest While The US and North Korea Meet—The Bear and the Amateur Gardener

When President Obama left office, he is said to have warned President Trump that America’s gravest threat was North Korea. Now, North and South Korea have met and resolved to end the decades-long war between them, which started in 1950 and has technically lasted to this day, though an armistice signed between North Korea, the US and China in 1953 ended the active military conflict. And this move toward peace was just a precursor to yet another unexpected event; Trump and Kim Jong-Un are getting ready to meet.

Are these epic enemies about to become friends?

A certain mountain bear, who may have been a card or two short of a full deck, was confined by circumstances to a solitary forest. Like Bellerophon who was banished by the gods of myth, our bear lived alone and hidden. He had gone mad, for the ordinary reason. One can’t live too long with sequestered people. It’s good to talk and better to remain quiet; but both are unhealthy when practiced to excess.

No animal had any reason to be anywhere near where the bear lived. Bear that he was, he got bored of this sad life. Meanwhile, as he was sinking into his melancholy, not far away a certain old man grew weary of his lot. He loved gardens, served as priest to Flora and Pomona, the goddesses of flowers and gardens.

Serving the goddesses is lovely, but between us, gentle and discreet friends, I can tell you that, unless they are in my books, gardens don’t talk much. So the man, tired of living with the mute foliage, set off one fine morning into the countryside in search of company.

The bear, with the same idea in mind, had just left his mountain. The two, in a surprising turn of events, encountered each other in their wandering. The man was scared. How could he dodge this situation? What to do? He would behave as if he were a braveheart; that was the best course of action. He covered his fear.

The bear was not one for small talk. He said: Come visit me.

The man replied: Sir, you can come to my house. Would you do me the honour of sharing a good country meal? I have fruit. I have milk. It might not be what good gentlemen bears ordinarily eat, but I offer what I have.

The bear accepted and off they went together. Look at them, good friends before they even arrived. Once there, our bear and gardener got on well together. It is true that we are better alone than in the company of an idiot. But as our bear said hardly two words all day long, the man could go about his business without noisy interruption.

The bear went hunting. Brought back small game. And engaged in his principal work, that of excellent fly chaser. He waved away the winged parasite, which we call fly, while his friend slept.

One day, while the old man was deep in his nap, a passing fly paused on the tip of his nose. Made the bear desperate, he tried so hard to chase it.

I’ll catch you well and good, the bear said. And here’s how.

No sooner said than done. The loyal fly-chaser picked up a nearby brick and gave a stiff throw. Broke the man’s head as it crushed the fly. As good an archer as he was a bad thinker, he laid his friend out flat and dead.

Nothing is more dangerous than an ignorant friend. Better to have a wise enemy.

As Bear Trump and Gardener Jong-Un prepare to share a country lunch, I worry that even if they make it to the table together, the chances of an incident-free meal are low. Even if all the advance political posturing and grand concessions are backed by genuine intent to follow through, Bear Trump is galumph enough that in his eagerness to swat flies for his new friend, he will throw a brick, laying not only his friend out flat, but incurring a wrath that may lay us all out flat.

There are some big assumptions in that last paragraph. First among them — that each comes with an authentic desire to find a peaceable solution. I will only comment on the leadership of the country I live in. I believe that Trump wants to make history. A peaceful nuclear disarmament with North Korea would be recorded (rightly) as a great feat. But his volatility, personal insecurities, inbred aggression and bullying temperament will be hard to overcome. For these reasons, we can be sure that he will not fit the wise enemy category offered by the fable. Even as he has brought the US and North Korea closer than any other president, he may be an ignorant friend.

What can we do?

Not be winged pests. Not shit all over him about how he is probably going to fuck this up. Admit that what he has done so far is important and unique. Give him credit. In this way, perhaps we can clear the air of flies. Move some bricks out of reach. If we administer the soporific of approval, perhaps instead of swatting, he may nap alongside his new friend as the ink dries on their historic agreement.

You may think, “I can never approve of anything Bear Trump does.” (I admit; I’m having a hard time writing this.) But we are better than that. We can look at facts and accept that they may be pointing in a new direction.

If Trump proves himself to be an ignorant friend, then we are in the same situation we would have been if we had spent the weeks railing against him.

Let’s save ourselves a Himalayan mountain of aggravation and conserve our energy for the myriad other issues (reproductive rights, environmental security, keeping our Dreamers, to name a few) that we need to fight for right now.

And if you’re looking for a few more insights on the US-North Korean relationship, here are some earlier thoughts through the fable looking glass:

17th Century Fable Consider U.S. and North Korea Relations: The Lion and The Fly

If War Were An Animal: Fable Offers Definitive Answer: The Cat The Weasel and The Young Rabbit



Be the first to get new writing and news, as well as hear about latest happenings. 

Thanks so much for joining our community!