How to Survive in the Military if You are a Decent Gentleman (or Lady)
Link to my original post in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal:
ARE YOU TOO GENTEEL AND DECENT FOR A MILITARY CAREER ?
A Parable For You – The Snake and The Saint
IS YOUR DECENCY BEING MISTAKEN FOR WEAKNESS ?
A decent individual is often thought of as a weak individual.
I have seen this happening throughout my life – in boarding school – in college – and – more so – in the Navy and Armed Forces – where decency is mistaken for weakness – and decent gentlemanly officers are considered to be soft – whereas bullshitters rule the roost.
Once – a very funny thing happened.
There was a formidable officer – who was a terror – and everyone was terrified of him – especially when he was roaring drunk.
He used to drink heavily – and after a few drinks he became very fearsome and intimidating – sometimes violent too – and fellow officers and sailors were frightened of him – and even his seniors were scared of confronting him when he was inebriated and in high spirits.
One day – this officer changed his ways.
He turned a new leaf.
He gave up drinking – and he became very polite, courteous and decent.
The redoubtable officer had undergone a total metamorphosis.
At first – no one could believe that this brute had undergone such a transformation and become a gentleman.
Then – after a few days – the very same people who were scared of him earlier – started pushing him around and bullshitting him.
His decency was mistaken for weakness.
One evening – I narrated to him one of my favourite stories from the parables of Sri Ramakrishna – the story is called The Snake and The Saint.
THE STORY OF THE SNAKE AND THE SAINT
A group of persons from a village went to a holy man, a Saint, who was meditating in a cave in the mountains.
They were very terrified and complained to the Saint about large venomous snake who was terrorizing everyone in the village.
“This terrible serpent’s hiss can be heard for miles around,” they said, “This terrible creature mercilessly bites everyone. Sir, this snake is extremely dangerous and does not spare anyone. He attacks even our wives, our children, our cattle, our dogs, yes, he viciously bites everyone he sees. Even the bravest among us have become afraid to venture out into the fields, which are dry, parched, uncultivated. Our granaries are depleted and empty. Our numbers are dwindling from death by the snake, and by starvation. Please help us. You are a great Guru and you alone can subdue and vanquish him.”
The Saint, realizing the gravity of the situation, went to the village – and then he walked to the place where the snake lived.
As he approached – the terrible venomous snake moved swiftly toward the saint with upraised hood.
The terrified villagers ran away – leaving the Saint to deal with the snake.
The Saint looked at snake, slithering and undulating, his scales shimmering in the sunlight, dark and shining in his majesty, awesome in his length and his beauty.
“Come forth, O Magnificent One,” the Saint called out to the snake – and the Saint kept looking at the snake with a benign eye.
The snake was mesmerized by the aura and charismatic presence of the Saint – and because of this – the terrible snake suddenly he lost all his ferocity – and the snake glided towards the Saint and coiled up meekly at the Saint’s feet in obeisance .
“O you beautiful creature, what is it that I hear about you being the scourge of the village? Leave your destructive ways. Be good. Do not terrorize the poor villagers needlessly. Please stop biting them. Leave them alone,” the Saint said to the snake.
The snake bowed and nodded assent.
The snake resolved to leave his evil ways and be good – and the snake promised the Saint that henceforth he would not bite anyone.
The venomous snake turned a new leaf.
The snake scrupulously kept his promise – and he stopped attacking and biting people.
The snake began to live a life of innocence – without attempting to harm anyone.
The villagers were very happy – they could move around freely without fear – the fields flourished – the cattle grazed peacefully – and the children came out to play fearlessly.
One day – several months later – the Saint passed by the village.
The Saint remembered the snake – and he searched for him everywhere.
After a long search the Saint found the Snake coiled near the root of a tree – the Snake was lying mangled and half dead.
The Snake was utterly transformed.
With all his scales had fallen off – the snake looked dilapidated, emaciated, innocuous, and badly injured – and the snake had sores all over his body.
The poor snake seemed to be on the verge of death.
“O My Dear Friend, what happened to you…?” the Saint asked the Snake.
“This, O Guru, is the fruit of obedience, of being good. I obeyed you – I gave up my evil ways – I let the villagers alone – I stopped biting them – I stopped attacking them – and do you know what happened to me…? Now – everyone pelts me with stones – they beat me with sticks – even the children tease and torment me and drag me mercilessly by the tail. But I have kept my promise that I made to you…”
The Saint smiled – and he lovingly said to the Snake: “I exhorted you not to attack them – but I did not prohibit you from hissing at them.”
The Snake looked at the Saint – feeling a bit confused.
On seeing the Snake’s confusion – the Saint said lovingly to the Snake: “My dear friend – I told you not to BITE people. But did I ever tell you not to raise your hood and HISS at them…? I told you not to Bite – but I never told you not to Hiss…”
The snake learned a lesson for life – and henceforth he got on in life quite safely.
So – if you are one of those rare decent genteel persons in military uniform – and you do not want to “bite” people – it is fine – but – do remember to “hiss” – whenever it is required…
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1. This story is a spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
2. All Stories in this Blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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I often narrated this parable during my Navy Days and have earlier posted it online a number of times in my blogs including at urls:and and etc
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