Back in the Before Time, Zebra was pure white. He was also the meanest, most ornery crittur in the bush. He liked to set the other animals against each other because it made him feel good. He liked to order them about and tell them in what parts of the forest they could and could not travel.
White as white he was..
Whenever he felt bored or insecure he would dream up some new piece of persecution to divert himself for a moment. This meant that the animals avoided him and so he became even more bored and insecure.
“There has to be a way to pick up a quarrel with the animals… I have to find a place where they all go to and then find a way to annoy them,” he muttered to himself as he stood all alone on the grassy plains.” Kalas Ambasivan.
So he went down to the waterhole where all the animals had to drink and lay in wait for them. When they arrived he leapt out with unrestrained glee, ” Ho, you stupid creatures, dont you dare go near the water. Its Mine.”
“May we drink from your water?” asked one of the animals timidly.
“No, Never!” replied the haughty Zebra. “All forest resources are for Zebra first and only…
” But you dont need to own everything,” continued the foolish creature.
“Silence,” commanded Zebra. “that is fake news.”
Then Baboon stepped forward..
” What if I refuse? ”
“Ha!” yelled Zebra, delighting at the prospect of a fight. “You cannot attack me,” And he built a boma of wooden branches around himself as a protective wall which he then set alight to intimidate everyone.
But Baboon was unafraid. He sailed over the burning branches onto Zebras back. It was the last thing Zebra expected. His own cowardice could not countenance the prospect that Baboon could act in such a spontaneous and unselfconscious way.
And even though Baboon was burned and pummeled and kicked till his arse turned blue he managed to unseat Zebra and bring him crashing down into the burning branches where the singe marks have remained to this day.
Baboon does something spontaneous and authentic.
He is wounded in the process.
But he is victorious.
Being burned from behind is a metaphor of betrayal. It means acknowledging not only the reality of the impact of Zebras actions on the lives of the forest animals, but also of their own collusion. Avoiding him on the forest trails, failing to speak out, turning a blind eye to intimaidation, are all the passive acceptance of pretending things arent so bad and that threats to freedom will just go away.
And yet betrayal is something that appears to be fundamental to life. The idyll of primal innocence has to be lost and the shadows in everything faced. Zebra has no shadow as yet. He is pure white. Which is why he is so dangerous. He doesnt believe himself capable of dark stripes, so he has no watch on his own wickedness. Wisdom is not knowledge of stuff, its consciousness of ones own darkness, enough to make you alert and wary in an empty room.
“When alone, behave as if in company. When in company, behave as if alone.” Zen Proverb.
Betrayal is a kind of necessary evil, and perhaps the bullying white Zebras of this world too. They help us to find what we are made of, the testing of ones spirit being also the fuel that makes it grow.
Adversity somehow drags authentic response from the soul and though Baboon gets burned for the priviledge, he does more than cast a ballot. He defies the firey wall.
His blue bum is an expression of authentic life. You cant fake a massive blue arse or its meaning. What you see is what you get. As indicators of sexual receptivity and tribal seniority they continuously advertise what is actually going on. No fake news in baboon culture.
So Baboon manages to bring Zebra down not by the co-ordinated effort of collective might but by his own spontaneous and individual action.
Its easy to feel overwhelmed by your own insignificance. Its something Zebra counts on. You imagine you have no power because you are just one person. Yet every act of courage begins with one person refusing to buy into the con that this is a limitation.
Being just-one-person is a great thing, more than you can hope for, because it is from the refusal to be dictated to and the insistence on having your own say whether there is anyone there to listen or not, that change comes.
Folk may denigrate you saying thats just your blue arsed opinion, but actually that is all any of us ever have, can ever aspire to. and so really all they are saying is, ” I havent yet learned to speak my own mind.”
Baboon risks the flames because his suffering blue arse means something to him. It symbolises something. He is free of the eat-work-sleep merry-go-round by which he had formerly been seduced. So he cannot be steered, cowed, or have the wool pulled over his eyes.
Despite his superior size Zebra is defeated and given a mark that represents his babyish need to have everything be black and white, for the solution to everything to be obvious and to have everybody else be stupid. His fate is poetic because he lives in a world in which there can not be reconciliation between opposites without first being torn apart by his own contradictions and complexities. Baboon on the other hand has been initiated by fire, happy with the contradiction that he is just-one-creature.