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Too late … cleverness-of-the-crow minister turned the tables on the owl

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A CLOSED state is one in which the official holds a unilateral opinion that generates crises in the state and renders it to suffer from diseases just because of his insistence to not read the reality on the ground.

Such an official operates based on the Pharaonic mentality mentioned in the Holy Quran, which is: “I only show you what I see … ” Because of that, the people of Pharaoh got decimated due to their leader’s opinionated mindset.

When it comes to the public interest, it requires openness to the opinions of trustworthy and knowledgeable people who have experience in the economy, society, military and security aspects, as well as non-reliance on self-seeking advisors who pursue only their agendas and ensure that the leader is isolated from his people.

As for an open state, it is one that the leader turns into a workshop, and where the specialists have the first and last opinion. The ruler cannot be conversant with everything, and is unable to conduct the affairs of the country alone without honest associates.

We highlight the story of enmity between crows and owls, which was authored by the third century Indian philosopher Bidpai and was aimed at guiding King Dabeshlim to the proper way of state administration and governance, and the importance of taking the opinion of loyal advisors, which is not always at the whim of the ruler, or the majority of ministers.

The book “Kalila and Dimna” written by the Indian philosopher Bidpai is a guide to good governance. He wrote pieces of advice to guide King Dabeshlim in state administration and governance. These guidelines were in the form of lessons through tales in which the main characters are animals in the jungle that was well organized.

In the story that we highlight today and which was published in the book “Kalila and Dimna”, the philosopher talks about the sound advice that managed to save crows from the invasion of owls.

King Dabeshlim asked Bidpai, “Tell me about a parable of a person who was aggrieved by an enemy who seemed humble, and tell me whether the enemy can become a friend”.

He said, “It is necessary to deal with him, but we must be wary of such dealing, as in most cases, this reconciliation is for a purpose or benefit, and is not for turning a new leaf of friendship.

We have a fable in this regard – the war between crows and owls. The owls attacked the crows, killing many and imprisoning many more. When the king sought advice from his Cabinet, one of King Crow’s ministers recommended appeasement with the owls, another suggested retaliation, and a third suggested retreat and emigration.

The cleverest one called for a ruse, but he said this to only the king in secret so that the plan would work. The clever minister advised the king to employ spies, because the enemies also must have spies. He suggested to pretend that he – the clever minister – is a traitor, and that the other crows should start cursing him with cruel words.

The clever minister said that he will say, “Beat me till I bleed and throw me down”, and this will mislead the spies into believing that he is their enemy’s enemy. After this, the king should fly with everybody to a safe location and stay deeply entrenched until he joins them.

The king accepted the plan.

At night, the owls raided but found no one but him – the injured “traitor”. So the owls asked him about the reason why he was put in that situation. The clever crow told them that he had pushed for peace with them but the rest of the flock had rejected his overtures for reconciliation and punished him for treason.

Then the injured crow/spy told them that he knows where they will entrench themselves, and that as soon as he regains some strength to fly again, he shall take them there. The owls believed him, adopted him, and nursed him back to health.

Meanwhile, as he was recuperating, he was gathering intelligence about the owls’ cave in order to identify its weakness so that the crows could take revenge. He gathered twigs and branches and placed them at the entrance of the cave under the pretext of building his nest.

At the first opportunity, he flew back to his flock and led them in a massacre of the owls. They set fire to the twigs and branches at the entrance of the cave, rendering the owls to choke and suffocate from the smoke inside the cave, and suffer burns as they attempted to exit.

Consultation with loyal advisors came in handy. It was the reason why the threat was eliminated from which the kingdom of crows endured. On the other hand, human beings have countries where leaders do not move except when an emergency occurs.

This is because they have hired advisors who are either not qualified for such a task, or are conciliators who turn the truth into falsehood and falsehood into truth, or brought in their relatives and entrusted them with tasks greater than their abilities, or wanted to reward their loved ones, their companions and even acquaintances by giving them such sensitive positions.

They are the ones who weaken their countries without realizing it, and suddenly wake up to their loss to bemoan the rest of their lives for the yesterday that was lost and thus being too late to start patching things up, as the patch is too small for the area that need not be patched.

By Ahmed Al-Jarallah

Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times