Long ago, when time stretched as one wished, and the forest denizens discovered the abundant environment about life was easy and at peace.
The owls who were happy eating their small rodents , one day realized that there was something more.
One owl saw a large white mouse and went after the same. Like a silent whisper it rose in the air spreading its wings. Soon it caught up with it and swooped down towards the mouse.
As it imagined a juicy mouse, it was surprised and surprised very badly. One the mouse was moving much too fast, and second it felt heavier than usual. “Wow” it said to itself, “I look forward to a nice meal”. It chased the white mouse again. This time with more determination and speed. Much like the proverbial vector we all have read about – magnitude and direction.
The owl finally caught the mouse and made sure that its talons buried themselves deep into the neck of the mouse and cut the jugular. It then went to it home with the spoils of the hunt.
The rest of the owls who were waiting at the owlery were eager and were quite happy that White Feather, that was its name, came back with a hunt. As they feasted on it, they realized that this was not a mouse but small sized rabbit. The meat was more delicious than a rat that they were used to. An old owl said, “This food is better. We must make rabbits our staple food”.
So, the owls assembled in a big parliament. All owls were present. Long eared, barn, tawny, brown, snowy, and even speckled came for the meeting.in fact over 200 species of the owls were present ranging from far and wide. There was hooting and tooting in the meeting . A very old Barn owl , named Graybeak, really the oldest amongst them was nearly 27 years old. Graybeak called for attention and before long the meeting came to an end. It was unanimously decided that rabbit would become a staple food for owls.
Then the mayhem began. Rabbits were hunted by all the owls. The rabbit population dwindled and the owl who were now used to rabbit meat were at a loss. So there a meeting once again. They decided to go easy on the rabbits. But now many owls were unhappy with this decision.
So, they formed a secret band letuseattherabbits and created a campaign. It became a major influencer. This group were young and socially savvy. They leader was Fleetwood, and he had some great experience creating rumours. On his leadership these owls started a rumour about rabbits that the ignorant animals started believing them and they too started hating the rabbits. These rumours took many avatars. One was that rabbits are really rodents in disguise. They alleged that they purposefully chopped their tails to look different. In fact, they got prominent hares to give interviews that rabbits were not related to them. Then there was one where statements on the food of the rabbits were made and this really hurt the rabbits.
Now the rabbits as we all know are peace loving animals. The only thing they used to hunt was the underground vegetables. Carrots, turnips, beet etc. One story deeply affected them. That was the one
started by the owls that underground vegetables are bad for the environment and in the ensuing movement, those vegetables were to be spotted and destroyed.
The lion passed a royal decree. This affected quite a few animals mostly vegetarians. But many were afraid of the lion and his courtiers. The rabbits were in a fix. They were adherents to truth and at every opportunity they had a discussion with other animals. About 50% of the time, they could convert the ignorant animals into their logic and stopped them from spreading the rumour. In effect, the potentials spreaders of lies were stopped. But the forest had too many animals.
They decided while other animals were converted to rational belief , they would not actively campaign for the truth. They moved from spreaders to indifferent.
They needed more stiflers. Animals who actively seek out rumour mongers and converted them to stiflers or indifferent.
The only way out was to create more rabbits. Remember I said they were peace loving, but they were also driven by logic and sound reasoning.
Hence the rabbits now called for a colony, and it was decided that they procreate more. So much so that by the next summer there was an appreciable growth in the rabbit population.
The owls were happy. The hunting limitation was removed and an “Eat at will” movement was promulgated. The rabbits reacted. The stifling operation was increased and one fine morning the rabbits armed with evidence and proof went to the lion and showed that the owls were creating more harm than good and must be sanctioned against.
The lion agreed. Even the rodents supported the decision.
Hence the animals decided that owl will now prowl around after sunset and retire during the day.
Finally, the balance between spreaders, stiflers and ignorant animals was restored. The rabbits were happy – but the procreation rule was not relaxed and to this day rabbits abound. They also created rumours on their own – remember the falling sky – but that is another story.
By- Prof. Eswaran Narsimhan