WITH all the restrictive measures we now have due to this
coronavirus pandemic, it might be good to re-appreciate and relearn
the precious lessons we can get from one of Aesop’s fables about the
race between the hare and the tortoise.
Yes, we should try to be like the tortoise who may be
moving slowly in that race but was singlemindedly determined to reach
the finish line. And he managed to win the race, because even if he
moved slowly, he was steady in his pursuit and knew what really
mattered in that race.
He was not distracted with the things he encountered along
the way. He did not waste time comparing himself with the hare who
clearly had an advantage over him in terms of speed. Most of all, he
was humble and just bore the mockery he received from the proud hare.
We should try to avoid being like the hare who may be
moving fast and who clearly enjoyed an obvious and immediate advantage
over the tortoise. But he lost the race just the same because he
became overconfident. His overconfidence sprang from the fact that he
compared himself with the slow-moving tortoise. What really did him in
was his pride which made him overconfident.
It’s not that we should not give due importance to the
good trait the hare had of moving fast. Let’s always remember what
Christ said about combining the smartness of the serpent and the
innocence of the dove. (cfr. Mt 10,16)
It’s just that when circumstances force us to go slow, we
should also know how to go about it. More importantly, we should not
allow whatever advantage we may have over the others to go to our
head, making us conceited. We would be going against God that way.
What we have to learn from the fable is to know the
consequences of the contrast between humility and pride. Humility
makes one see things more objectively while the pride blinds us with
our own biases. It was humility that made the tortoise know what truly
mattered in that race.
What is more is that humility also attracts God’s grace
that will enable us to accept whatever happens in our earthly affairs.
Even if in the end, the tortoise lost, he would not feel bad about it.
He would accept that fate peacefully and with a sporting spirit.
Pride blocks God’s grace and cuts us out of God’s wisdom
and everything else that he has. It has terrible effects on us, and
these can take place in such a way that we would not even notice them.
We have to stay away from pride by all means. Let’s always remember
what St. James quoted in his letter: “God opposes the proud, but gives
grace to the humble.” (4,6)
But our humility should not mean that we give no
importance to the speed that the hare had. It’s just that that good
quality of the hare should not lead us to be proud and conceited. The
best condition would then be when we would have the humility of the
tortoise and the speed of the hare.
But again, given the present circumstance, we should know
how to go slow by taking care of our prayer life, our faith, our
conviction that whatever situation we may find ourselves in can always
be an occasion to love God and others, which are the essential purpose
of our life here on earth.
Also, let’s sharpen our skill in relating everything,
especially our mundane and temporal affairs, to God, making them the
reason and the means for loving God and the others. Our usual problem
is that we often forget God and our duty to love when we are into our
work, our business and politics, etc.
We have to go slow in learning the vital connection
between the things of this world and the heaven we are meant to be in