Once upon a time, there was a rabbit and a turtle. The rabbit had long legs and was made for running. The turtle, on the other hand, had short and stubby legs and it took days if not months to cross a field. Slow living, however, meant a long life. Despite their differences, they lived peacefully together in a small forest.
But only to some extent. Actually, they shared the last bench in the back of the classroom and were dismissed as failures by their classmates. As the class buffoons, they thought they were funny and didn’t realize they were objects of ridicule. Somehow, the rabbit could pass on its wily ability to talk out of tight corners and the turtle was able to hide all the test notes in its thick shell.
Maybe for the very reason that they always got such miserable scores, they were constantly bickering about who was better, searching for faults in each other and priding themselves over any tiny advantage. It was rather silly that they should be competing for the bottom rung of the ladder when they had no intention to climb it. It was a race for the bottom.
Though it was perfectly senseless, the rabbit one day challenged the turtle to a footrace. Everyone knew that the rabbit would win, but out of pride, the turtle couldn’t admit it and accepted the challenge. The goal was sufficiently far enough to take some time to reach and could serve as a slightly interesting diversion for the other students.
After much strutting and boasting, the rabbit took off at a good trot, but once out of sight headed for the nearest corner plot of juicy carrots to forage and nap. The turtle, on the other hand, set out at a steady pace, determined to finish the story as it had always been told. Unfortunately for both of them, the day was freakishly hot and as they ran neck and neck for the finish line, they both collapsed from heat exhaustion.
They didn’t drop dead on the spot, but some opportunistic vultures quickly spotted them and finished them off. The rabbit was skinned not for its meat but to be sewn into a luxurious fur coat and sold to someone who could afford it. The shell of the turtle was made into designer buttons and the meat was consumed in a restaurant serving endangered species at spectacular prices.
Their schoolmates were shocked and appalled at what they had seen before their very eyes, but had already deceived themselves in thinking that they were better off. Actually, they were competing for the second rung from the bottom without realizing the ladder never had much to do with real abilities. The only tragedy of the sudden death of the rabbit and turtle was the quickness at which they were replaced by others who thought that winning the wrong race made them somehow better.
The moral of the story is, “Don’t run too fast when it’s hot.”