The birds and the beasts and then the bats
BUSINESS MATTERS BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - November 1, 2020 - 12:00am

It is a good thing for parents to read their children, Aesop’s Fables. Each tale teaches a lesson. But when you examine the lessons closely, you will realize that the contents speak to adults. Let me show you what I mean by sharing the Bats and the Birds’ story with you.

A great conflict was about to come off between the Birds and the Beasts. When the two armies were collected together, the Bat hesitated which to join. The Birds that passed his perch said: ‘Come with us’; but he said: ‘I am a Beast.’ Later on, some Beasts who were passing underneath him looked up and said: ‘Come with us’; but he said: ‘I am a Bird.’

It’s always comfortable to be on the safe side. To be neutral on everything.

Fortunately, peace was made at the last moment, and no battle took place, so the Bat came to the Birds and wished to join in the rejoicing, but they all turned against him, and he had to fly away. He then went to the Beasts, but soon had to beat a retreat; they would have torn him to pieces. ‘Ah,’ said the Bat, ‘I see now,

‘He that is neither one thing nor the other has no friends.’1

No one ever amounted to anything which was not willing to commit.

I have come across a lot of leaders who are the “Birds” type. These are the ones who fly the moment there’s trouble. They would instead choose non-involvement than to be engaged in conflicts even if they know the truth. Even when they were sure that their colleagues were in the wrong, they kept their mouths shut. They just do not want to be involved.

Then there are the beasts. These are the people whose ambition in life is to tear apart, stop at nothing, and step on everything and everyone just to get ahead with their career and personal interests. Birds and beasts, I have met them. The list is incomplete. And then there are the bats. These are the ones who will stick to the winning side. They first watch from the sidelines as the fight is going on, and when they sense who the winners would be, they quickly take their side.

Of all the three groups, this one is the most detestable. The birds are so apparent in their cowardice, but they do not attempt to cover their weakness. The beasts are so evident in their pursuit of gains, and sometimes, their passion and drive could even be a source of inspiration but the bats? Tell me again… where would you put them?

They come to you only when they know it’s safe, but deep in your heart, you know that you will never rely on their help and support once you need it. They give all sorts of excuses to stay away from committing, and you know that deep down inside, this is dishonesty and hypocrisy at the highest degree. This is why the bats are so detestable. The world would be a better place without them.

Henry Thoreau, that rugged New England individualist of the 19th century, once went to jail rather than pay his poll tax to a state that supported slavery. Ralph Waldo Emerson, his good friend, hurried to visit him in prison, and peering through the bars, exclaimed: “Why Henry, what are you doing in there?” The unwavering Henry Thoreau replied, “Oh no Ralph, the question is, what are you doing out there?”

It has been said that “all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Silence is a show of approval. This is true, and therefore through this, you and I can surmise that the opposite of bravery is not necessarily cowardice but conformity. But what about the bats? You cannot trust them, and you do not know how to deal with them. Well, at least you would now know one and recognize one when you hear people say, “In politics, there are no friends and enemies.” Only bats, I suppose.

Bats hang upside down on trees, not a beautiful sight. They’re blind, they sleep when it’s daytime and are wide awake when it’s night time. Pretty abnormal, wouldn’t you say so?

My apologies for animal lovers out there; we are merely discussing fables, aren’t we? Or perhaps we are not. It has been said that “Those who are not willing to stand for anything will certainly fall for everything.” That is so true, even when they are hanging upside down.



(Connect with Francis Kong at Or listen to “Business Matters” Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. over 98.7 DZFE-FM ‘The Master’s Touch’, the classical music station.)

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