Newcastle — Not so long ago, but a long way away, in the savannah of Zimbabwe, a baby zebra was born. This was “Baby Zebra.” That isn’t actually a name: all little zebras are “Baby Zebra,” because lacking cognitive powers zebras rely for recognition on sight and smell and not on anything as pernicious as words or names. Yet this Baby Zebra was different, for he was the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, and, as befits such a noble individual, maintained powers of reason and judgment.
Baby Zebra enjoyed a happy and carefree youth, gamboling about the grasslands, nurtured by mother and the harem. As with most species, father was remote, projecting a distant, macho image as opposed to intimacy; again wordless, because zebras have no concept of cars or sports.
One day the lioness appeared. She made no attempt to hide, but squatted at the edge of the bush watching the herd. The zebras noticed her and became nervous, huddling tightly together. All except a youngster of Baby Zebra’s age, who had been born with deformed legs and could not scamper back from where he was playing. The lioness charged, leapt onto the back, broke the neck and carried the carcass back into the bushes.
“How fitting and just,” thought Baby Zebra with his Dalai Lama brain. “How different from human behavior where the maimed, deformed and handicapped are coddled and protected in irrational ways.” But in Buddha-like fashion he scolded himself for this thought, reminded that compassion is a noble human experiment outside the realm of nature.
When Baby Zebra became a teenager, in zebra years, he rebelled against the older members of the herd. In particular he hated the conformity of costume and wondered why he should wear only stripes like the others of his ilk. He wanted individuality, an identity! The Dalai Lama brain attempted to mitigate this selfishness, but brooding on it, Baby Zebra wandered to a nearby water hole that was not used for drinking, because the abundance of lye in the water rendered it non potable. He sidled in to a depth where only his black nose was above the surface and he stood there for three days and three nights. When he stepped from the pool the stripes were gone!
Proudly he galloped back to the herd. A funny thing happened. He was not recognized and was rejected, for as is common among all species, we spurn those who do not look like us. He had made himself a pariah, an outcast, among his own kind. Who would have thought that color alone could cause such discrimination?
Baby Zebra wandered off on his own. After many days he came to a farm where a worker mistook him for a white horse with a black nose, and took him in, offering food and shelter. He was taught to pull a plow and a cart, and for many years he labored there as a horse, proud to be doing useful, productive and selfless work in contrast to browsing indolently on the savannah. The Dalai Lama brain had triumphed.
Eventually, as with all living things, Baby Zebra became old, and one day he died. His spirit, however, remained for reincarnation, and legend has it that the Dalai Llama flew in a trice from Zimbabwe to Washington D.C. There he continues his noble and selfless work, but this time, alas, again in human form as Joseph Biden. Fare thee well Baby Zebra aka Mr. Vice President. There is much yet to be done, for with man, evil abounds.