June 17, 2007AsidePublic Policy

Sunday Levity: Esky and the Penguins

A fable that you can tell your little children

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

Tell me a different story,” the little girl said, something that has penguins in it”. The father agreed. This is the story he told…

A colony of penguins somewhere in Northern Canada were led by a king, named, well Kingoo. Every morning he would give a distinctive squeak which was an order for the rest of the penguins to jump into the water and catch fish. After some time he would give another squeak, actually a kaeuqs, which was an order for them to come back to the shore with their catch. He would then take the biggest, fattest fishes from their catch and leave them to share the remaining ones. Kingoo had grown fat and was unable to swim. But he would stand on the shore and squeak and kaeuqs. The penguins, you might have guessed, were not particularly motivated when it came to fishing.

One day, Esky was out, as usual, on his sled. A strong cold wind started blowing so he took shelter near a rocky patch. He found some penguins huddling there, and they soon got talking to pass the time.

Hi, I’m Esky”, said he.

Hi, we’re all penguins,” said the penguins.

Don’t you have names?” he asked.

No,” they said, we’re all called penguins. Only our King has a name. He’s called Kingoo”.

He is the one that eats the biggest, fattest fishes” one of them said.

But that’s no good,” said Esky. You ought to be doing the sharing-the-fish thing differently. Why don’t you go and tell him. I’ll wait here.”

The next day, the penguins went out and caught the fish and came back with the catch as usual. Then they told Kingoo that he shouldn’t have a right to take the biggest, fattest fishes.

But I’m the King,” he said, and that’s why I must have the biggest, fattest fishes. So let’s have it.”

And the penguins did as they were told. That’s the way they had always done things, after all.

When Esky heard this he came down to the beach and confronted Kingoo. He gave Kingoo a nice, twisty pinch until Kingoo gave a scream. It was a sound the penguins had never heard before.

Now listen,” he told Kingoo, this system of sharing the fish is not fair. You shouldn’t deprive them of the benefits of their own hard work. So that’s got to change. And while you are about it, why don’t you allow them to have their own names.”

Kingoo had no choice. He agreed.

Does that mean I’m not a King anymore?” he asked.

Well, you are, for now. But it’s all up to them”, Esky said, pointing at the excited huddle of black, white and yellow. (The excitement was because they had given themselves names and were busy introducing themselves to each other). And then he went home.

Penguins get a name

From then on, the penguins were allowed to keep the big, fat fishes for themselves. The rest they gave Kingoo, who divided them among the whole colony.

In time, the penguins found that the fishes they caught as a colony were bigger and fatter than in the past. Kingoo lost some weight, but not very much. They let him remain King—mainly because he was incapable of actually catching any fish. But he was good at squeaking and kaeuqsing.

And they lived happily ever after?” the little girl asked. Yes”, said her father.

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