One of the many creatures that Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s classical Little Prince encounters on the earth is a fox. The creature approaches the Prince with a weird request. “Please tame me,” pleaded the fox. The Prince did not know the meaning of ‘tame’. “It means to establish ties,” explained the fox. Without the ties, the boy would be just another boy for the fox just as the fox would be just another fox for the boy who don’t need each other in any way. “But if you tame me,” continues the fox, “then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world.”
|Little Prince and the Fox|
When you establish the “ties” the person or thing becomes unique to you, the Prince understands. He remembers the rose which he used to look after on his own planet. He watered it, he made a special glass enclosure for its safety, he killed caterpillars for its sake. The Prince refers to the rose with the personal pronoun ‘she’. “It is she that I have listened to when she grumbled, or boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing,” he says. “Because she is my rose.”
Relationships do not require many words, reminds the fox. “Words are the source of misunderstandings. But you will sit a little closer to me, every day...” The fox goes on to share its personal secret with the Prince. “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” He also reminds the Prince that he must not ever forget what he has tamed. “You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.”
Men have forgotten this, accuses the fox. “Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all readymade at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends anymore.”
The latest Indispire theme [What do women need more today: equality or empathy?] brought the Little Prince and his fox to my mind. Man has established his lordship not only over his own planet but also over the infinite cosmos whose mysteries are being probed by man-made telescopes roaming the interstellar spaces. Yet why has he not been able to shape a civilisation in which the question of equality and empathy should not arise at all, especially for the whole half of the species? Or are some of the fears grossly exaggerated? Personally, I have seen many women who have wielded tremendous powers over men in workplaces. I have seen men being made dumb asses by clever women who ascended the winding staircases and dark corridors of power in a world that reminded me of Kafka and his Castle. Yet, of course, there are women too who still languish outside the Castle, I suppose, waiting for the corridors to open, waiting to ascend the staircases...
Perhaps, the question should not be about equality and empathy. Perhaps, it is about the taming that the fox speaks about.
“The men where you live,” the Little Prince tells the narrator-human, “raise five thousand roses in the same garden – and they do not find in it what they are looking for.” A little later he adds, “And yet what they are looking for could be found in one single rose, or in a little water.” Then he concludes, “But the eyes are blind. One must look with the heart...”
But our hearts are up there in the telescopes that are conquering the stars.