The Frogs Who Wished for a King, for Our Time


I've recently been introducing my daughters to Aesop's Fables. They are no longer taught in school, but since we are homeschooling these daughters who are our youngest, we feel free to make sure they are acquainted with these timeless fables. It's a way to initiate a discussion about practical principles for prudent, wise living. Since it has been several years since I last read Aesop with a child, it's been fun for me to re-acquaint myself with them all over again.

One of the fables we read today was "The Frogs Who Wished for a King." Here it is:

The Frogs Who Wished for a King

The frogs were tired of governing themselves. They had so much freedom that it had spoiled them, and they did nothing but sit around croaking in a bored manner and wishing for a government that coule entertain them with the pomp and display of royalty, and rule them in a way to make them know they were being ruled. No milk and water government for them, they declared. So they sent a petition to Jupiter asking for a king.

Jupiter saw what simple and foolish creatures they were, but to keep them quiet and make them think they had a king he threw down a huge log, which fell into the water with a great splash. The frogs hid themselves among the reeds and grasses, thinking th new king to be some fearful giant. But they soon discovered how tame and peaceable King Log was. In a short time the younger frogs were using him for a diving platform, while the older frogs made him a meeting place, where they complained loudly to Jupiter about the government.

To teach the frogs a lesson, the rule of the gods now sent a crane to be king of Frogland. The crane proved to be a very different sort of king from old King Log. He gobbled up the poor frogs right and left, and they soon saw what fools they had been. In mournful croaks they begged Jupiter to take away the cruel tyrant before they should all be destroyed.

"How now!" cried Jupiter; "Are you not yet content? You have what you asked for and so you have only yourselves to blame for your misfortunes."

Moral: Be sure you can better your condition before you seek change.

Let me just say to an American in 2021, this seems like a very relevant fable. Our people have plenty of freedom, and now center their lives around the latest entertaining popular thing on the internet. They are careless, heedless, bored. Governing themselves seems so . . . stupid.

This is simplistic, of course, but still. Our age seems to be animated by meaningless churn. Change for the sake of novelty alone. Certainly it seems not to lead to a general betterment of conditions for anyone. And what passes for 'acceptable' understanding changes almost daily, prompting self-righteous outrage as another form of entertainment.

It's hard not to view this all as heading in an unsavory direction. We are turning into these foolish frogs (though there is a good case to be made that humans are always and in every age, foolish). Heavenly Father has no doubt seen our foolishness, and has given us incompetent leaders--King Logs, if you will. If they are incompetent, perhaps they will not be able to do too much evil. But no doubt we will be disappointed in them, and not see that perhaps their incompetence was the better of the evils available.

I must say that I worry a crane is coming. Worse, if a crane does come, it will be deserved. I feel sorry for the frogs who were not like the more foolish frogs. I hope Jupiter watched over them . . .