The Scorpion and the Turtle

The story of The Scorpion and the Turtle is an Allegory said to be written by the poet Nur ad-Din Abd ar-Rahman Jami.

This story also goes by the name: The Turtle and the Scorpion.

The Story

An English Language version of the story is as follows...

A turtle was happily swimming along a river when a scorpion hailed it from the shore.

A scorpion, being a very poor swimmer, asked a turtle to carry him on his back across a river. "Are you mad?" exclaimed the turtle. "You'll sting me while I'm swimming and I'll drown."

"My dear turtle," laughed the scorpion, "if I were to sting you, you would drown and I would go down with you, and drown as well. Now where is the logic in that?"

The turtle thought this over, and saw the logic of the scorpion's statement. "You're right!" cried the turtle. "Hop on!" The scorpion climbed aboard and halfway across the river the scorpion gave the turtle a mighty sting. As they both sank to the bottom, the turtle resignedly said:

"Do you mind if I ask you something? You said there'd be no logic in your stinging me. Why did you do it?"

"It has nothing to do with logic," the drowning scorpion sadly replied. "It's just my character."

The Meaning

The elegance of allegories, like this one, is that they are able to communicate an abstract concept in a way that is not as susceptible to corruption and redefinition as words are.

The meaning I get from this story is that not everyone can be trusted; that not everyone acts logically; and that not everyone acts in what you believe is their own best interest. I take it as a warning to watch out and be weary of those who you don't trust.

In Practice

-- Mirza Charles Iliya Krempeaux
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