2008 Sejong Writing Competition

Winning Entries :: Essays :: Senior third place

The Rabbit's Judgment
Bori Ha

It is both an easy and foolish thing to trust. Yet it is the very nature of human behavior to trust and to believe things that we shouldn’t. This idea of blind trust is perceived in the story of the Rabbit’s Judgment. This parable reveals a virtue of human nature, the ability to trust freely, albeit foolishly. There can be consequences for trusting the wrong people, as illustrated in the story, but good deeds merit rewards. While the sapient rabbit has qualities that we admire, we are able to relate most with the asinine human who trusts a hungry tiger. As an imperfect human, I feel most affinity for the man, though there are qualities in the rabbit that I wish I possessed.

It is the ability to trust freely and completely that makes humans both foolish and wise. Frank Crane stated, “You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if you don't trust enough.” The man symbolizes trust. Although the man is aware that as soon as he saves the tiger, it will most likely eat him, he chooses to blindly trust the tiger’s promise. Like the man in the Rabbit’s judgment, I give out my trust far too easily. Although wary of the consequences at first, we are both won over by seeming sincerity, which sometimes serves as a veneer for other intentions. We trust time and time again, hoping that this time our confidence will not be betrayed. It is my belief that “to be trusted is a better compliment than to be loved”.

Although I see myself in the trust of the man, I aspire more towards the wit of the rabbit. The rabbit is sagacious and chooses to look past whatever preconceptions it may have towards the man before making its judgment. Mankind has ill-treated oxen, trees, and rabbits, but only the rabbit is able to look beyond these past offenses. The rabbit says, “No one, not even a man, shall be punished for kindness”. The ox and the tree were justified in their opinions against the man, yet they were still biased. In order to make fair decisions, we must ignore past prejudices in our efforts to start anew. For example, during the Japanese invasion of Korea, Korean citizens experienced a cultural genocide. After Korean Independence in 1945, many Koreans harbored feelings of distrust and derision towards Japan. Although the nation is also justified in their prejudices, Korea must maintain diplomatic relations with Japan, despite past occurrences. In order to move forward as a country, it must bestow redemption on Japan. Just as Korea was able to exonerate Japan, the ability of the rabbit to make a fair and just decision, while overlooking biases, is truly admirable.

Equally important to the rabbit’s judgment is the man’s initial decision to aid the trapped tiger. I most likely would not have been able to save the tiger. Even though I would be lured into believing the tiger’s innocence, I would not try to rescue it. There are some base primitive instincts that I believe are present in every human being. Protecting oneself from hungry predators is one of those instincts. If I truly trusted the tiger, I would go back and get help to free it from its trap. Instead of liberating it myself, I would try to find food and throw it to the tiger. As a human, I cannot depend on a wise rabbit’s judgment to save me from my foolish trust.

An important piece to this story is redemption. No matter what crimes the man has committed against animals and trees, he is forgiven by the rabbit because he did a good deed for the tiger. The rabbit demonstrates that forgiveness is a multi-step process. The animals and trees have biases against mankind now, but if we keep on redeeming ourselves, it will not be long before our reputation as compassionate beings will precede us. We need to learn how to forgive and trust others, to widen our own horizons. Currently, in the world today, we find ourselves in situations where we cannot afford not to trust. In wars, in alliances, in communities, we must look past prejudices and biases behind us. Then, perhaps, we will not need the judgment of a rabbit to save us.