In a faraway animal kingdom, there existed three majestic creatures that dictated the rule of the land with their prowess and might. They were the bear, the dragon and the eagle. All animals paid homage to them and duly acknowledged their strengths and influence throughout the kingdom.
The bear – which was one of the fiercest animals on land – had a huge territorial habitat under its paw. The bounties in the bear’s habitat had drawn jealousy and envy from many animals. Not many animals dared challenge the bear – except the eagle.
One day, the eagle managed to rally other animals to support his cause to demand a greater share of the bounties and more freedom for other animals that inhabit the bear’s territory. The bear stood up firmly on his ground and dismissed the threat. The diplomatic stalemate between them finally exploded into a war.
Since then, their bitter rivalry had become a legend in the animal kingdom as both had fought very hard for influence and territory. In the end, the eagle with its sharp talons managed to subvert the bear to surrender.
After winning the war, the eagle wasted no time in asserting and claiming the war booty. The bear’s territories were re-drawn and not only that, the eagle built many nests in the newly-drawn territories citing ‘security purposes’ to safeguard other animals that lived nearby the bear’s already-shrinking territories.
It was hard for the bear to stomach this new fact but nothing much can be done so the bear went into hibernation as its habitat already wrecked by the war and a long winter was looming ahead.
The quietest, most reserved, and pacifist in nature of the three was the dragon. Being a mythic creature, it was rarely sighted for hundreds of years. It too used to be at loggerheads with the bear and fought several wars with it. Their feud had taken its toll, so the dragon and the bear ended up with a truce and agreed not to encroach into each other’s habitat ever again.
Thus, the dragon’s habitat remained intact for hundreds of years with the same borders and frontiers. The dragon was too busy managing its own lair rather than venturing into unnecessary conflicts with other animals.
The Era of the Eagle
The eagle was the most mobile and ferocious of all animals. It ruled the skies, oversaw the lands and air across the animal kingdom for years. Ever since it defeated the bear, the balance of power in the kingdom favourably tilted towards the eagle. It became an alpha predator across all food chains in the kingdom. The eagle was regarded by many as a king without a crown and an emperor without an empire, yet it ruled like one.
Given to its predatory nature, the eagle loved to flex its wing across many other habitats. It built many nests around, inside or near all the animal habitats in the pretext of safeguarding them from the bear, the dragon and the hunters – which many animals considered to be a concocted and fictitious threat.
The eagle devised various treatises and institutions that it claimed would bring benefits for all animals in the kingdom even though there had never been a proper and equitable consultation process that demanded full participation from all animals.
Not only that, many animals were caught by surprised at how the eagle, using its veto power, appointed the leaders of the institutions from amongst its own species – the birds of prey – the likes of the hawk, falcon, and vulture. Living under the shadow of the eagle’s wings, many animals grudgingly admitted that the eagle was the de facto king of all animals in the kingdom.
Gripped by the eagle’s talons, many animals suffered greatly. They cried at the top of their lungs for the injustices the eagle committed across the animal kingdom. As the cry grew louder each day, finally both the bear and the dragon were disturbed by it in their slumber. Once awakened, they realized the kingdom had succumbed to the dictatorship of the eagle.
The New Alliance
The bear and the dragon also realized that the eagle had contained their habitats from all fronts during their absence in managing the kingdom’s affairs. Their borders had been compromised as many other animals were seen building up their armies near the edge of their borders at the behest of the eagle.
The eagle managed to convince them – sometimes using both underhand tactics and gunboat diplomacy – of the danger that the bear and the dragon could pose to their territories. Afraid to defy the eagle, most animals hesitantly obliged.
The bear and the dragon thought very hard and finally decided it is time to set their differences and old squabble aside: they must cooperate. The first thing the bear and the dragon agreed to was to share their territorial habitats.
Both the bear and the dragon could move in and out of their territories without suspicions or fear. By having such an arrangement, the idea of ‘security guarantee’ for their habitats could easily be achieved by the bear and the dragon. Under this pact, both will be responsible to each other’s habitat no matter what happen or how severe the damage that the eagle and its allies might inflict upon each of them.
Next the bear and the dragon agreed to share resources. The bear possessed huge arsenals that were well kept in its den – remnants from past battles with the eagle. The dragon on the other hand being an economic powerhouse and a major producer for the animal kingdom had huge workers and capital at its disposal.
Both the bear and the dragon also agreed to swap resources and reinforce each other in areas where they lacked. They must work closely and start to convince other animals that the tyranny of the eagle must be brought to an end and a more equitable and just animal order need to be instituted for the benefits of all.
The bear and the dragon toured around the kingdom and started selling their manifestos for a new order of the kingdom. They preached to other animals that the current order and infrastructures erected by the eagle and its allies were relics from the hunter-hunted habitat of the past.
All animals should demand a non-hegemonic order where every animal will be treated justly – no matter how weak and small they are. The bear and the eagle envisioned a multipolar kingdom to replace the unipolar one that currently being led by the eagle.
All of them were keen to support the bear and the dragon’s proposal but they were afraid of the eagle’s mighty grip on the kingdom. If the eagle remained stubborn, the tensions between the three could escalate into a war in the kingdom where everyone will lose greatly irrespective of the sides they are currently aligning with.
The real dilemma remains with the eagle. Would it be ready to relinquish its hegemonic position in order to co-exist with a new and inevitable rising order of the animal kingdom that is spearheaded by the alliance of two mighty animal leaders in the form of the bear and the dragon? Or would the eagle, with its sheer folly and hubris rather start another round of war in the kingdom just to cling to its ever-slipping and discredited throne?
Only time will tell. This new year ushers the kingdom with greater uncertainties than ever – uncertainties that were not seen since the day of the great clash between the bear and the eagle in which the whole kingdom was dragged into, almost delivering it to the brink of total destruction.
By Wan Ahmad Fayhsal
The author is a fellow at Putra Business School, Malaysia