don't lose sleep
The life of a sheep is easier than the life of a lion. Sheep are given food and water freely by their shepherd, and are protected from predators by shelters they did not build. They fatten themselves on the shepherd’s food, thriving into a multitude that outnumbers the lions.
But these comforts bind the sheep into slavery. The sheep are bred to be weaker of mind and body, to require the shepherd’s protection so greatly that they can be free of physical chains but never stray. Theirs is a lifetime of servitude — one that is comfortable but ends at the shepherd’s whim.
Lions have no masters. Though the lion must hunt for its own food and search for its own shelter, it is free to roam where it wishes and requires no one to open its gate. Though the feeding trough of the sheep is filled, it is only with the grass and grain of its master’s choosing. A lion must hunt and chase its meals, but feasts on anything it catches.
Wealth and success never come
to those who simply wait for them to arrive.
Some humans choose to be sheep. They desire freedom but rely on others to provide their comforts, striving for riches but investing little effort to attain it. They scream in protest when they are fenced in and herded — angry that they are not free like the lions — but accept the shepherd’s food nonetheless. Though they rebel by day, they always wander home to their cages by night.
Only a fool believes that all deserve
equal rewards for unequal effort.
Leaders must have unwavering confidence in their decision to choose effort over leisure. As human sheep boast of their slothful lives of ease and criticize any who work to better themselves, the shepherds pay no heed.
Mockery is weak
when shouted through the bars of a cage.
Is it the lion’s stupidity that keeps it from a life of leisure? How can so many sheep be wrong as they grow fatter on the shepherd’s food? Why would any creature choose to run free in the dangerous and uncertain wilderness?
Humans are not born as sheep or lions but must choose a path for themselves. Will you strive for what is easy and safe? To follow close to the multitude? To remain within the fences that protect you from the outside but imprison you within its boundaries? Or will you travel the path you choose, exploring freely in the dangerous forests of life, leading your own way in a planet filled with followers?
At sunset, the sheep are herded back into their prison and fed until they drift into sleep. The lion enjoys no such promises, wandering upon the mountains in search of a meal: hungry, but free.
Though it lacks the comforts of a shepherd’s security, a lion never wishes for the life of a sheep. A lion may hunger while a sheep is fed, but the fattest sheep is the lion’s meal. ▲
The Illuminations are curated as a public service from the Department Of Citizen Outreach. By studying and sharing the words of world leaders, successful visionaries, acclaimed writers, and historical figures, humans from all walks of life can discover wisdom from this planet's greatest minds.