Until the lion tells the story, the hunter will always be the hero.– proverb from somewhere in Africa
This is an interesting proverb in several ways.
It reminds us to listen to the story of the ones who haven’t yet told their story. If that’s not possible, for whatever reason, we can at least acknowledge there are other – perhaps equally valid – stories to be told about any situation. And sometimes, we can do our best to imagine what those stories may be.
The proverb also reminds us of our anthropocentrism. We see the world through human eyes, and sometimes ignore the viewpoint of non-human species. We – explicitly or implicitly – assume and live as if the world was created for us, and chose to ignore the myriad of other beings who want the same as us. They want to live. They, in their own way, want to be respected. If they could speak, they would tell us to take their needs into consideration as well.
In a similar way, we tend to prioritize our own needs and wishes over the needs of future generations. We are unable to listen to the voices of future generations since they are not here yet. But we can give them a voice. We can include someone who speaks for them in the decisions we collectively make. We can imagine their needs and wishes. And we can probably imagine these needs and wishes pretty well since they are the universally human ones.
The lion also represents the lion in each of us. The primal power. In our western culture, we have ignored this voice as we have ignored the metaphorical voice and viewpoints of flesh and blood lions and animals in general.
Listening to the voice and viewpoint of lions and animals, future generations, and our inner lions and voices, all go hand in hand.
How would an imagined dialog with the lion go?
What’s your view on humans?
They are not someone we would normally care much about. But they keep taking our land, and they hunt us for no reason that we can understand. We hunt because we have to eat to survive. They don’t seem to hunt for food. What else than eating can justify killing us?
It seems they brag about killing us. We don’t understand. We hunt because we have to. It’s nothing to brag about.
And they have a way to kill us at a distance. We don’t have a chance. We need to get close to kill, and they won’t allow us to get close. If we got close, and they hadn’t their way of killing us, they wouldn’t stand a chance.
And what about a dialog with the inner lion?
How does P. relate to you?
He likes the rawness and power I have and makes use of it sometimes, but otherwise tends to ignore me. He is cautious about me and has learned, from culture and family, to be cautious and often ignore me.
How do you help him?
I help him feel stronger and more in charge of how he deals with situations. I help him feel more whole. I help him get things done. He feels more whole, embodied, and alive when he taps into me.
What advice do you have for him?
You don’t need to be so cautious with me. Tap into me and bring me into your daily life more often. I can be with you more constantly, and you’ll feel stronger, grounded, and alive, and it will help you be more real with yourself, others, and life.
Footnote: It seems that giving children and students the task of writing stories from the normally voiceless – animals, plants, future generations, ecosystems, Gaia and so on – would be very interesting. It helps us imagine the world from another perspective than our own, including as human beings. I am sure some teachers and schools do this, and I would certainly have loved it.