The Scorpion and the Snake

The Scorpion and The Snake

The Scorpion and The Snake

I learned this one forty years ago in a meditation retreat, week-long event in Oakland, California, Then, about twenty years ago, I heard the story used again in one of the big movies from that year. Now I’ve forgotten the year and the name of the movie, but I’ve just always assumed that the screenwriter had attended the same event or a similar seminar at another time. Once more, it’s a parable. Many sources attribute the fable to Aesop and his story of “The Frog and The Scorpion” since the tale is essentially the same as the one presented here, but I prefer the version I heard of “The Scorpion and the Snake” because it pays far more attention to the relationship that existed between the two characters prior to their journey. Please feel free to post your comments on what you think the lessons are. That’s what matters. ~ Bill McCurdy, The Pecan Park Eagle

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The Scorpion and the Snake

The scorpion and the snake had been enemies forever, but they both lived together on the lush food supply banks of a wide and deep flowing river.

They also understood each other and the dangers of a physical encounter that would endanger the lives of both fairly equally. A sting from scorpion and the snake would quickly fall into paralysis and death. A poisonous bite from the snake and the scorpion would find himself quickly rendered helpless and swallowed as a morning, afternoon, or evening snack.

And so the scorpion and the snake lived in careful peace around each other for close to half a century.

Then, one day, the scorpion was forced to face the fact that he was running out of food due to his own consumption of the dwindling natural source on his log-time side of the river. He could also see that all of his preferred food sources appeared as abundantly plentiful across the river on the other bank. The only problem he faced was simple. The scorpion could not swim.

The scorpion had two choices: He could do nothing and slowly starve to death. – Or, he could risk asking his old cold war enemy, the snake, for getting help via transportation to the other side of the river. The snake was an excellent swimmer.

The scorpion chose the latter option and he finally approached the snake with a request that offered all the logical support he could muster:

“Old-like-me enemy of mine,” the scorpion began, “I have a request that I think may appeal to you. – I’m running out of food on this bank, but, as you may also surely see, my kind of food is abundantly available on the other side of the river. – I can’t get there as a non-swimmer, but you could take me there on your back, if you are willing.  You are an excellent swimmer. – Once you deposit me on the other bank, you will then be rid of me forever. Again, because I cannot swim, I could never return to this side to haunt you as a potential danger. – What do you say?”

The snake thought long and hard about it, but finally yielded to the wisdom of the scorpion’s logic. He agreed to help with an abrupt reply: “I’ll do it. Hop on my back when we reach the river and I will swim you across right now. – Come on. Let’s go. The sooner the better!” Both creatures smiled knowingly and then walked and slithered together to the river’s edge, where the scorpion crawled up the snake’s back as they then immediately started the snake’s three hundred feet swim to the other side.

All went well until they reached the middle of the river.

Suddenly, the scorpion stung the snake in the back with the full force of all the paralyzing venom in his system. And the snake felt its effects almost immediately. His body was shutting down. Soon his entire respiratory system and his control of the powerful muscles within him would vanish completely. If the snake didn’t first die from the venom, they both would soon enough drown in the hard rushing waters he was losing his fight against.

“Why did you sting me in these circumstances, you idiot?” the snake screamed with his last ability to speak. “Now we are both going to die in the river!”

“I did it because I’m a scorpion,” said the ancient enemy, “and that’s what scorpions do.”

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2 Responses to “The Scorpion and the Snake”

  1. Helenann Lauber Says:

    Bill, That was one of Irv’s favorite stories. He used to tell it all the time. Thanks for the memories!

  2. Phil Holland Says:

    Never trust your enemies.

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