The Gods And Demons Of The Lemming: A Fable About Idolatry


Like I said before, I know that a lot of you are probably tired of my constant ranting here on GRP so perhaps you’d be more willing to listen to another story instead in a similar vein to Bob Ong’s Alamat ng Gubat and George Orwell’s Animal Farm


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Once upon a time, in an island where beasts lived as men and the hearts and likenesses of men lived in animals…

Eagle flew over the mountains and cliffs of the land, searching for anything amiss that he could report to Lion, the ruler of the island. After hours of flying and, at one instance helping a group of blind mice find their way home, he spotted the Lemming building his house near a swamp. The Eagle knew that the swamp held many dangers, including a poisonous miasma that could make one sick, so he flew back to Lion and reported what he had found.

When Eagle told Lion what he saw, Lion called Lemming to his castle to speak to him and perhaps convince him to build his house elsewhere where it is safer. To aid in this, Lion called forth Cobra, the well-traveled sage who knew much about the ways of the island and beyond.

When Lemming was finally brought to Lion’s court, he was first asked why he had decided to build his house in such a dangerous place.

“Because the Swamp is my god,” said Lemming. “And my family and I worship it.”

“And what makes you say that?” Lion asked, curious.

“Because it gives me food when I need it,” Lemming answered simply.

“But the swamp isn’t a god.” Cobra spoke up finally. “The swamp is just that: a swamp. A muddy place where water and dirt mix. It may give you food, but that isn’t its purpose and living there can even be dangerous. Did you not know that there are many poisonous vapors that can form in swamps that can make one sick?”

“Hmph!” Lemming scowled. “I will believe what I want and I will live where I want!”

“Do you not trust Cobra’s wisdom?” Lion asked. “He is a well-read and well-traveled beast.”

“I will do as I please!” Lemming said stubbornly.

Eagle, Lion and Cobra looked at one another before turning back to Lemming.

“Very well,” nodded Lion. “You have a right to your beliefs and to live where you want to. Note however that this court cannot be held responsible for whatever consequences your choices entail.”

And so Lemming did as he pleased and lived with his family in the swamp, not heeding or even believing Cobra’s warning. He lived there in the swamp with his family until the noxious vapors from the swamp made his daughter sick. At first, Lemming thought that all he needed to do was visit Doctor Frog in order to have his daughter healed but it soon became obvious that that wouldn’t be enough. Indeed, Doctor Frog even suggested that Lemming relocate his place of residence which caused the latter to get angry and never visit the doctor again. After all, Lemming believed that the swamp would look after him and his family and that it would heal his daughter somehow.

Unfortunately the swamp did nothing for him except provide food for him and, one terrible day, his daughter finally died of the sickness she caught from the swamp.

Many animals wept and grieved for this, including Lemming and his wife. Lion even called on Archbishop Ram to see to the funeral and had Vulture prepare the dead body of Lemming’s daughter for burial. It was also then that Lemming finally decided to leave the swamp for good.

And so everything was okay for a while again and Eagle took flight to spot anything amiss in Lion’s kingdom. After a few hours of flying and helping Crocodile find her son who had somehow fallen into a well where Eagle, Crocodile and Crocodile’s Son found a mysterious VHS tape that they couldn’t watch because VHS players were phased out on the island, Eagle spotted Lemming again. This time, Lemming had built his house on the beach where it could be easily swept away by a freak wave.

So Eagle went back to Lion to report what he saw and Lion called forth Cobra and Lemming again.

“So you moved to the beach?” Lion asked.

“Yes, I have.” Lemming answered. “The sea is my new god!”

“But what about the swamp?” Cobra said smugly. “I thought the swamp was your god.”

“The swamp is not my god anymore!” Lemming said. “The swamp killed my daughter so it must be a demon! It deceived me into living with it so it could kill my daughter! That’s why I’m going to live near the sea from now on because it always washes me and my wife clean and keeps us safe from disease!”

“But,” Cobra said incredulously. “The swamp killed your daughter as a natural consequence. The sea isn’t a god either and is just a large body of salt water. Neither the swamp nor the sea are gods and don’t deserve your worship.”

“Hmph!” Lemming scowled. “I will believe what I want and I will live where I want!”

“Will you not at least hear us out this time?” Lion said, a little upset now. “After what happened to your daughter, we were hoping that you’d at least be a little more reasonable now.”

“No,” said Lemming. “It was the swamp that killed my daughter! I will do what I want and live where I want!”

“So be it!” Lion said. “Your rights allow you to live as you choose.”

And so Lemming lived on the beach for a while with his wife. Then, one night, their home was swept away by a gigantic wave and flinging both Lemming and his wives into the sea. Luckily, Orca was around to help and managed to rescue Lemming. Unfortunately, while Orca managed to rescue Lemming, he was unable to find Lemming’s Wife who had probably drowned in the first few minutes.

The animals wept for the loss of Lemming’s Wife and Lion called on Bishop Goat to see to the funeral and had Hyena prepare an empty coffin (because they never found Lemming’s Wife’s body) for the burial. Lemming wept the loudest among all the other animals, shouting that he had been betrayed yet again, this time by the sea. It was also then that Lemming decided to move away from the beach and the sea.

So, again, for a while, everything was okay…

Then Eagle went on patrol again, flying across the sky to search for anything worth reporting. Once, he had even stopped to help Rhino whose toilet was obstructed with substances that need not be mentioned here and spent a good few hours helping out. But then, before he flew back, he spotted Lemming again.

Lemming was not living in a dangerous place but Eagle saw that his house was surrounded and decorated by torches. Seeing the potential disaster that could occur, Eagle immediately flew back to Lion to report what he saw. Lion called on Cobra and Lemming yet again but he now had his doubts.

“So what’s with all the torches?” Lion asked disinterestedly.

“Fire,” Lemming answered. “Fire is my new god! It keeps me warm at night. It’s nothing like the swamp nor the sea who are demons! It will never betray me!”

“But Lemming,” reasoned Cobra. “Fire isn’t a god and, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could end up hurting yourself.”

“Hmph!” Lemming scowled. “I will believe what I want and I will do what I want!”

“Very well,” Lion sighed. “It is your right after all. But for the last time, we will not be responsible for what happens to you. So go and do what you think is best so long as you harm no one and disobey no laws.”

And so Lemming did as he wanted yet again. This time however, one of the torches fell over and his house caught fire. Lemming tried to escape but he became trapped by the fires caused by the torches set around his house and he died an agonizing death by fire.

This time, while the animals did weep for Lemming, they wept with the knowledge that what happened was mostly his fault. Lion was only able to get Friar Mouse to see to Lemming’s funeral and Fly to prepare his body.

So ends the story of Lemming…

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