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The Phoenix Lament

'The problem with winning THE rat race is, you're still a rat.'

Imagine a world ruled by phoenixes. Phoenixes because they stand for immortality. Immortality is what every person must strive for. We need to create ideas, ideals and values that are like phoenixes. We need to contribute to the world something that will last for a long time, long after we're dead and gone, something that will last forever. Some of you might feel I'm asking too much of you. If you do, its definitely one of the reasons why you're still running the rat race. Getting back to phoenixes, how did they come to rule the world?

Let's assume the world is divided in two parts. One is the dark, small world of the sewers that is infested with rats. Billions of rats. This comprises just 1% of the area on the planet. The remaining 99% is (no prizes for guessing) the home of the phoenixes. Now, phoenixes are much much more intellectually capable than rats. But there are just about a thousand phoenixes. The phoenixes, though immortal, cannot grow in number. They need more phoenixes to make the world a better place. At the same time, they want to help out the rats and make their lives better, more meaningful. But the problem is that the rats are scorched to death (some instantly, some over a longer period) if they are surrounded by the bright phoenixes. So, one day, the phoenixes gather together to work out how to help the rats. They come up with what they believe is a master plan. They design a tunnel connecting phoenix-world to the rat-world that takes over a 600 days to cross. The journey through the tunnel is arduous. So, the phoenixes also designed a mechanism that would allow the rats making the journey through the tunnel to breakout into the world of the phoenixes for a short (lasting no longer than 70 days) period of time. The assumption they had made was that the initial half of the journey would be enlightening enough for the rats to figure out how to last 70 days amongst the phoenixes without getting their skins burnt. Their idea was that a short exposure to what lies at the end of the tunnel would inspire the rats to put in an even harder effort in crossing the second half. When the rats went back into the tunnel and completed the second half of their journey, the phoenixes were sure that the diligent effort on the part of the rats and the superior and specific design of the tunnel would guarantee that the rats would have completed not just their journey, but a transformation into phoenixes. They decided to fix the capacity of the tunnel to accommodate about 1000 rats. This, they felt, would ensure a steady supply of phoenixes at regular intervals of time who will contribute to the betterment of the world.

When the world came into being, there were just a 1000 rats and a 1000 phoenixes. The rats could not stay amongst the phoenixes and not get burnt, and slowly moved into and made the sewres their home. Unlike the phoenixes, the rats could breed, which turned them into a force of billions. But they could still not get out of the sewers. Every rat dreamed of living like a phoenix one day, and when informed about the transformation tunnel built by the phoenixes, were thrilled by the opportunity. When they found out the upper limit on the number of the rats that were allowed to make the transition in each trip, the rat race began! Every rat wanted to make it out and live like a phoenix. This was where the phoenixes erred. They thought that the rats would want to be like phoenixes, but the rats only wanted to live like phoenixes.

The rats started making it out of the hole in extremely small numbers, but they started making it out nevertheless. The phoenixes were initially delighted to see phoenixes crawl out of the tunnel. But in time, they started to realize that that was all the phoenixes that came out of the tunnel did, crawl. They couldn't fly!

There are 48000 phonixes in the world today, including the original 1000. But those are the only 1000 that can truly fly. Few of the early phoenixes that climbed out of the hole have realized later on that the journey through the tunnel had a purpose. The rats were so overwhelmed with what was at the end of the tunnel, and the later ones making the trip were so overwhelmed with even the opportunity to breakout that they failed to realize that purpose of the design of the tunnel. There were, and to this day are, over a million mechanisms that facilitate the rats to learn how to fly. The rats are so blinded by the light at the end of the tunnel that they fail to notice these little facilitators. No wonder they fail to fly when they make it out.

The original phoenixes lament that they aren't getting the desired results out of their tunnel experiment. They tried to tweak the system several ways but eventually resigned to the fact that they can only provide light in the dark sewers, but cannot give the rats eyes that can see in the light.

Please suggest ways to make the rats realize that a rat race is only won when they transform into a phoenix and fly out of the tunnel. Stop the phoenixes' lament!

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