The Horses and the Hornets (A Parable about the World)

Once there was a large, beautiful meadow in which lived several horses and many hornets. As far back as the hornets could remember, the horses dominated the meadow. They stomped on the plants, turning a part of the meadow barren. They stomped on hornets, too, killing many.

Occasionally a hornet would retaliate, but most of the time the horse’s hide was too thick, and if the horse did notice, the attacking hornet was stomped on. This reinforced the belief that there was nothing the hornets could do.

When groups of hornets appealed to the horses, the horses were unapologetic. Some horses even gloated that they were a million times bigger than a hornet, so that it was their right to dominate.

Then one day, a hornet was sitting on a branch by the stream that ran through the meadow. It began to rain hard, but the hornet was mourning the loss of his sisters and brothers to a stomping horse. He wished that there was a way to fight back. As it rained, he watched the stream swell almost into a river. It began to tear at its banks with great force. This gave the hornet an idea. The words came to him, “Raindrops make rivers, and rivers can move mountains!”

He returned to the other hornets and explained that if they attacked in mass, they could make any of the horses run, or they could even kill a horse if they kept stinging it. When some complained that the horse could take a few stings and not be bothered, he replied, “Sting them in the eyes and ears and the tender parts!”

Soon an organized group of hornets set upon one of the largest and nastiest horses. They sent it flying! When it complained to the other horses, warning them that this was a dangerous precedent, they counter-attacked the hornets. It seemed grim, but the one hornet said, “If we stay together like a river flowing in one direction, we will overwhelm them!” He told them to keep using their stings, and to focus on one horse at a time, until they almost paralyzed it.

Finally the horses realized that being a million times bigger was not necessarily an advantage. They had a lot of exposed skin, a lot of exposed target. They soon came to the negotiating table to try strike an agreement. Some hornets wanted to destroy the horses completely because of past harm done, and because the horses tended to wreck things. But other hornets thought that if the horses followed certain rules and changed their behavior, they could actually do much more good than the hornets alone, and so it would be better for all who lived in the meadow.


Most people will probably think that the horses in this story are corporations, but they could be any large organization or government that dominates, does damage or oppresses. The hornets are people who at first don’t realize their power. But the difference between hornets and people is that we have at least four kinds of stingers: You have political power; the economic power of where you spend your money; your communication power, especially on the Internet; and also your power directly on the environment, for instance conserving energy or recycling. As raindrops make rivers, all of these stingers can have an impact on large, unfeeling organizations.

I believe that currently most people think that large institutions will always dominate. In fact, when I tell people about my program, they often suggest that I get the sponsorship of a large foundation, corporation or nonprofit. But that would just reinforce this belief that only big organizations or famous people have the power to change things. That just reinforces the roots of oppression. Instead, I ask you to trust in the power of your own efforts, perhaps supported by one Buddy, or a small group of friends. I say, “Trust in arithmetic, and the power of raindrops to make rivers, and rivers to move mountains.” With the other huge ideas, I am confident that first our own lives, and then the world can be transformed.

By the way, in some place I read that the corporations are the dominant institution of the planet. But part of our approach is that superprograms could become the dominant structure of the planet. That would be a good thing because it would dramatically boost people’s ability to learn and change. It would lead to a global power shift, power into the hands of individuals. And it could happen very fast because of viral internet communication. You could lead the way by participating or by volunteering.

[Superprograms are described in some detail on the Superprograms page.]

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