The Bird and the Dinosaur -- a parable

Aug 19 2007 Published by under Fiction

Two men sat at a table working on a large jigsaw puzzle. After some effort, they succeeded in putting together a small collection of pieces into the image of an eye.

"From the shape of the eye," said the first man, "It looks like the puzzle might be of a dinosaur."

"Nonsense," said the second man, "The eye is clearly that of a bird."

With no more information to go on, the two men continued to put together the puzzle. The next collection of pieces came together in the form of a leathery section of tail.

"Hmm," said the dinosaur man. "This is good evidence that my initial hypothesis was correct."

"You are too hasty," said the bird man. "There could be a lizard sneaking up on the bird to eat it. You don't know how the pieces fit together."

"Fair enough," said the dinosaur man. "Let's continue to work."

They continued. Soon, they had assembled a stump-like foot.

"This could be an Apatosaurus, from the look of it," said the dinosaur man, "But we'll need to finish more of the image to piece it together."

"Absurd," replied the bird man. "The bird and the lizard are standing on an elephant's foot table, is all."

"Um, okay," muttered the dinosaur man. "Maybe we should work a bit more on the puzzle."

"You work on it," snapped the bird man. "You refuse to admit that I'm obviously right."

So the dinosaur man worked on the puzzle alone. In short order, he had pieced together a stretch of a long, leathery skinned back.

"It's not conclusive, but it certainly looks like a dinosaur's back to me," he said.

"I won't listen to your lies any more," said the bird man. "You still can't put all the pieces together, and there are plenty of gaps in the puzzle."

"Yes," responded the dinosaur man, "But the only way the parts make sense is if it's a dinosaur."

"There could still be bird parts we haven't put together," hissed the bird man.

"Whatever," said the dinosaur man. "You know, I don't see any pieces with feathers on them in the box."

The bird man huffed irritably. The dinosaur man continued to work on the puzzle.

Some time later, their jailer opened the door. The puzzle was still not finished, in part because the bird man had refused to work on it.

"I came to see what you have learned," said the jailer, and both prisoners came forward.

"So, what is the puzzle a picture of?" asked the jailer.

"A bird," hastily snapped the bird man, cutting off the dinosaur man before he could speak. The jailer turned to the dinosaur man.

"And what do you think?"

"It looks most likely to be a dinosaur," the dinosaur man replied. The jailer nodded to him.

"You may go."

The dinosaur man went outside, into a sunny park. He marveled at the beauty of nature: the trees, the flowers, and the birds. How alike, he thought, are birds and dinosaurs!

Still trapped in his cell, the bird man sat, alone. He glared accusingly at the unfinished puzzle.

The single assembled eye in the puzzle stared back, unconcerned. It knew what it was, and was comfortable with it.

2 responses so far

  • Personal Demon says:

    I digg it 🙂

  • bgecko says:

    Brilliant, It's sad that it's been so long since I saw a story from a 'non-giant' author ( 😀 ) that realised that science fiction isn't about the differences, but the parallels. I wish I could get my message across as well as you. 🙂