Once upon a time there was a land of sheep. These sheep were divided into two large flocks, one of which was owned by an elephant while the other flock was owned by a donkey.
Most of the time, the two flocks were satisfied and relatively happy with their lot. Occasionally, however, changes would occur and one or another of the flocks would become restless and unhappy.
Perhaps they were sheared of their fleece too closely, or too often. Perhaps inadequate food or shelter or veterinary care was provided. When this happened, the sheep from that flock would move to the other flock because conditions seemed better over there. After a time, this increase in size would cause the flock they had sought for a better life to develop problems as well, and then the sheep would move to the other flock again.
No sheep, it seems, was really happy with either the elephant or the donkey. But, being sheep, they weren't able to do much about it.
One day a black sheep appeared and advised the unhappy flocks that their life could be better if they took control of their lives. He offered to show them how and to help anyway he could.
This kind of talk made the sheep nervous. Many wondered how the black sheep could be sure that life would improve. And others wondered who would be their leader,
But you don't need a leader, the black sheep, told them. You can do whatever you need to do all by yourselves.
Leaderless?, one cried out. No one to tell us what to do?, another bellowed. The flocks were very unhappy.
Finally, they told the black sheep to go away. You're weird, they said, and you are a black sheep with crazy ideas. You are too different. Go away, and leave us alone.
So the black sheep went away. The sheep accepted their lives. The elephant and the donkey looked amusingly at their flocks, watching them switch sides as if it might make a difference. They laughed together. They knew that all the sheep were theirs. They had nothing to worry about.
On Wendell Berry's current book and film
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